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1001 ways to heal the planet

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Edited by
Kosha Joubert and Leila Dregge

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Contents
Preface
Did you know...?
Ecovillages and the Beautiful World We Could
Live In
The Power of Community
The Five Dimensions of Sustainability

EUROPE
The Stillness at the Centre
Findhorn / Scotland
A Community of Foster Families
Kitezh / Russia

Balancing Individuality and Community


Damanhur / Italy

Reclaiming Freedom, Empowerment and


Sustainability
Lakabe / Spain

BuildingBridges Between Cities and Villages

Giineskoy / Turkey

Building a Healing Biotope


Tamera / Portugal

Alternative in the Mainstream


Ecovillage Sieben Linden / Germany

AFRICA
The Miracle in the Desert
Sekem / Egypt
African Intellectuals Back to their Roots
Natmin / Togo

Genius in the Townships


OTEPIC / Kenya

Uhnntu IAm Because You Are


Greening Schools / Zimbabwe,Malawi, Zambia

Responsible Tourism
Sandele Eco-Retreat / The Gambia

Where Top-Down and Bottom-Up Strategies


Meet

Mbackombel, Guede Chantier, Senegal

LATIN AMERICA

A Dream of Peace, Self-sufficiency and Samba


Sao Paulo's Favela da Paz' / Brazil
The Cultivation of Culture
Tenonde Pora / Brazil

The Decision for Life


Peace Community San Jose de Apartado / Colombia

Building Community and Resisting


Globalisation
Comuna Tola Chica / Ecuador
163 Years after Slavery: Recognising Afro-

Colombian Communities* Rights


Islas del Rosario / Colombia

NORTH AMERICA
Balance Between Old and Young
Sirius Community / Massachusetts, USA

The Edge Effect


Ecovillage Ithaca / USA
Four Decades Qn
The Farm / Tennessee, USA

Getting to the Source


The Source / Jamaica

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things


Earthaven Ecovillage / Southern Appalachians, USA

ASIA
Ecovillages.-- In Our DMA
LadaKh / India

Ecovillage andDecolonisation
Wongsanit Ashram / Bangkok, Thailand
A Gardener in South India
Auroville / India

The Secret of Community


Narara Ecovillage / Australia

Solutions for a Vulnerable Climate Zone


Bangladesh
Creative Judaism and Ecological Consciousness
Kibbutz Lotan / Israel

Overcoming Occupation
Hakoritna Farm / Palestine

THE HISTORY OF GEN


Global Ecovillage Network: 1991-2015

Appendix

GEN and Gaia Education


Literature List

About the authors

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Appreciation
This book was born from a rich mix of minds and places.
Our first priority is to thank our storytellers who have so
generously contributed to life in the ecovillages and to this
book in particular, We give thanks to all the elders of the
ecovillage networks who had the wisdom to plant seeds
and watch them grow, and especially to Hildur and Ross
Jackson and the Gaia Trust, We give thanks to the vibrant
young people, who have the vision and enthusiasm to
bring the movement into the next level of aliveness and
readiness. We give thanks to all those who are doing the
actual work on the ground right now. After reading this
book we all know intimately just how much continuous
courage, perseverance and caring it takes!
Special thanks goto our voluntary translators,
photographers, editors and researchers amongst them
Jenefer Marquis, Angelika Gander, Pavitra Mueller and
Ethan Hirsch-Tauber. Clio Pauly from Namibia was our
star and a never-ending source of clarity and commitment
to seeing details through to the end. Huge thanks to the
great publishing team at Triarchy Press for your
encouragement and support! We warmly appreciate our
family and friends, and our communities at Findhorn and

Tamera for holding and inspiring us,


And lastly, a heartfelt thank you goes out to you, the
reader, for going on this adventurous journey with us! We

look forward to our paths crossing in the future,

w
ECOVILLAGES are intentionalor traditionalcommunities that

aim to regenerate socialandnaturalenvironments. The


social, ecological, economic andculturaldimensions of
sustainability are integratedinto aholistic sustainable
development model thatis adapted to localcontexts.

Ecovillages are consciously designed through locally owned


participatory processes:
In thisbook we also includenetworks ofecovillages andNGOs
that support communities to design their ownpath way into

thefuture and to transition to beingecovillages.

Preface
All over the planet, and often in unseen, remote places,
one of the most crucial explorations of humankind is in
full swing. Scientists and technicians, inventors and
farmers, women and men with huge hearts and youth
with fresh eyes, activists and those most affected by the
global crises are building a network of integrity together:
in villages, cities and slums, they are finding answers to
the questions of our times, stepping into response-ability
and initiating ways of living that sustain life and
regenerate our social and natural systems. No one
planned this community-led movement of meaningful
response; instead, it emerged from the hearts, minds and
hands of courageous people who decided to choose the
road less travelled,
'Tworoads divergedin ayellow wood, ,,Itook the one less travelled
by, A ndthathasmadeallthe difference,1
RobertFrost

While in so many places 'business as usual' continues as


if we were blissfully unaware of the consequences,
ecovillages work to implement solutions on the ground mostly with simple means, but sometimes with
spectacular results. They have become regional and

national beacons of inspiration for the social, cultural,


ecological and economic revival of rural andurban areas.
They are part of a worldwide movement for social and
environmental justice,
When the concept of ecovillages first arose in the late
1980s, it related to intentional communities, born from
the dedication to create high quality, low impact lifestyles
that offer an alternative to a culture of consumerism and
exploitation. Today, and especially in the Global South,
the ecovillage networks include thousands of traditional
villages and initiatives in slums where people have
decided to take their future into their own hands. Growing
from a shared set of values, the flow of communication
between ecovillages from all continents facilitates NorthSouth reconciliation, East-West dialogues and, in effect,
an evolving global consciousness,
In this book you will be introduced to a selection of
ecovillage projects from all over the world. We have aimed
to give at least a taste of their richness and diversity. Most
texts are based on interviews with founders or long
standing members of communities; some texts are about
regional or national networks of ecovillage transition. As
we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Global Ecovillage
Network in 2015, we want to honour successes, but also
learn from difficulties and failure. Consequently, this
book, while outlining one of the greatest adventures of our
time, our quest for lifestyles of sustainability, does so

from a very personal point of view,


At the end of each article, you will find a few keywords
for solutions. Every ecovillage is developing local
solutions to global challenges. You are invited to find out
more about some of these solutions in the Solution
Library (solution,eco village:org) where they are made
accessible to all. You might even feel inspired to integrate
some of them in your own community or back garden,
This book is simultaneously being published in
German by the publishing house 'Neue Erde, in a version
that is more focused on examples from the German
speaking world,
May the stories and tales come as a source of
inspiration to all of us. May they strengthen our belief in
our capacity to realise our dreams and become true care
takers of our beautiful planet and each other. We are all
needed in this quest every single one of us is called to
take a next step on our own version of the road less
travelled by.Maybe, one day, these roads will merge into a
new, life-sustaining culture,

Enjoy!
Kosha Joubert
Leila Dregger
Please note: Unless otherwise shown, allphotographs come
from the ecovillagefeatured,

spotlights within a global


movement

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Ecovillages andthe Beautiful


World We Could Live In
by Kosha Joubert
" We are thelastgeneration that can change climate change. We have
a duty to act. "Ban Ki-moon

This is a beautiful planet! It calls to us to take time to


explore - to visit a river, look at the moon, watch the wind
as it moves through the leaves, listen to birdsong, feel the
ocean waters on our skin - to allow ourselves to be
touched by the larger forces that surround us. And we
only need to look into the eyes of a child to connect to our
innate wish to protect life, 1 believe we carry a natural
tendency to care, and feel happiest when we find a way to
express it,-

While this may be true, many of us live lifestyles that


keep us glued to electronic screens, confined in built-up
environments and surrounded by consumer products. As
we witness the convergence of multiple crises resulting
from our mainstream actions and institutions (climate
change, ecocide, poverty, senseless violence, the depletion
of natural resources, pollution, etc,) many of us long to
shift to a lifestyle that enables us to tread softly on this

earth. We long to marry passion with responsibility and


our love for the planet with the ability to earn a living, W e
long to one day look back and feel proud of the heritage
weve left our children and grandchildren,
The ecovillage networks that span the planet are a
tangible expression of these longings.
1 was born in 1968, in South Africa, a country where
people of different skin colours were separated by force
under the system of apartheid. Economic exploitation,
land grabbing, humiliation, pain, threat and fear were
normal occurrences under apartheid. The consequences of
this brutal system are still playing out in South African
society today; for example, it is estimated that a woman is
raped every 3 6 seconds. It is not a simple feat to heal the
individual and collective scars of trauma and historic
atrocities. Forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be
legislated for; they need to be lived, like a road that needs
to be walked through time.
Coming from this background, my focus has been
firmly lodged in spaces of healing and transition, and in
fields of intercultural communication, 1 developed a
healthy mistrust of political institutions, closed systems
and societal norms. What seems more trustworthy,
instead, is searching the edge, coming down to the ground,
meeting the people, welcoming tangible experience and
the general messiness and complexity of life. My
engagement with the ecovillage and intentional

earth. We long to marry passion with responsibility and


our love for the planet with the ability to earn a living. We
long to one day look back and feel proud of the heritage
weve left our children and grandchildren,
The ecovillage networks that span the planet are a
tangible expression of these longings,
1 was born in 1968, in South Africa, a country where
people of different skin colours were separated by force
under the system of apartheid. Economic exploitation,
land grabbing, humiliation, pain, threat and fear were
normal occurrences under apartheid. The consequences of
this brutal system are still playing out in South African
society today; for example, it is estimated that a woman is
raped every 3 6 seconds. It is not a simple feat to heal the
individual and collective scars of trauma and historic
atrocities. Forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be
legislated for; they need to be lived, like a road that needs
to be walked through time,
Coming from this background, my focus has been
firmly lodged in spaces of healing and transition, and in
fields of intercultural communication, 1 developed a
healthy mistrust of political institutions, closed systems
and societal norms. What seems more trustworthy,
instead, is searching the edge, coming down to the ground,
meeting the people, welcoming tangible experience and
the general messiness and complexity of life. My
engagement with the ecovillage and intentional

community movement has been inspired by all the above,


When 1 turned 23, 1 went on a pilgrimage through my
home country at a time when violence was at its peak. It
was in 1991 and NelsonMandela had just been released
The country was bristling with suppressed anger and
frustrated hope. For a while, 1 had worked for various
anti-apartheid organisations. Now, at last, 1 had the
courage to walk an actual exploration of my country, to
visit all those places that were taboo to a young white
'Afrikanermeisie': the black taxis, the townships,
wilderness and night sky-solitude. 1 walked up the coast
for three months, ending up in the Transkei, one of the
black homelands at that time.
Once 1 had crossed the river by boat at Port St. Johns,
there were only footpaths, meandering around hills, over
brooks, to huts and fields that perfectly blended in with
the landscape. The horns of African cattle curved like
everything else here, and their pride and curiosity spoke
of partnership rather than of subjugation by their human
owners. In this place of beauty, 1 found a community
where black and white young people were living together,
fleeing the system of apartheid and tilling the soil, taking
care of the land, building huts and bringing up their
children in unison,
This was my first experience of an 'ecovillage, even
though none of us knew the term at that time. It changed
my life, 1 realised that we could build the new within the

old without fighting, 1understood that such a 'cell' or


niche of innovation could inspire a movement of change
throughout a whole system. 1 also realised that the
luxurious simplicity of living in accordance with ones
values requires a process of inner growth and maturation
that mercilessly chisels away at naivety, innocence and
false pretence!
1 had discovered an entrance to a new world, hidden
like an onion skin within the one 1 was introduced to by
mainstream education; the world of intentional
communities and ecovillages. When 1 arrived in Europe
and later travelled to As ia, 1 followed word of mouth
recommendations like a red thread and was guided from
one magical place to the next. Each place was different,
born from a specific intention within a particular cultural
context, yet all were similar in their search for a life that
could become an expression of love.
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) was founded in
1995 to make visible an emergence that was already
taking place, and to provide a link between communities
being developed by thousands of grassroots pioneers. GEN
serves as an alliance between rural and urban, traditional
and intentional communities aiming for high-quality,
low-impact lifestyles, GEN has settlements with some of
the lowest recorded per capita carbon footprints.
GEN works through five regional organisations; the
Ecovillage Networks of North America (ENA), Latin

America (El Consejo de Asentamientos Sustentables de las


Americas / CASA), Oceania and Asia (GENOA), Europe and
the Middle East (GEN -Europe), and of Africa (GEN-Africa),
NextGEN brings together the youth movement. Together
these networks connect to the impressive work done in
over 10,000 communities on the ground in more than 100
countries worldwide. Weaving together the most
innovative solutions with deep-rooted traditional
knowledge, GEN is creating a font of wisdom for
sustainable living on a global scale,
From permaculture projects in Africa to Buddhist
ashrams in Asia, from hippie communes in the USA to
eco-caravans in Latin America, there is a burgeoning
diversity of 'ecovillage projects. The sheer complexity and
range of expression seem to be at the core of what
'ecovillage is all about! Our human and natural diversity
is precious and lies at the core of our hope for resilience,
The wealth of variety is one of our greatest treasures and
may manifest in the artistic nature of individual
expression, the richness of spiritual diversity, and the
ingenuity of locally appropriate technologies,
Within this celebration of difference there is a common
core and GEN defines ecovillages as intentional or
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traditional communities, consciously designed through
locally owned, participatory processes to regenerate social
and natural environments. The four dimensions of
sustainability (ecology, economy, the social and cultural)

are integrated into a holistic, sustainable development

model that is adapted to local requirements,


Ecovillages combine a supportive and high-quality
social and cultural environment with a low-impact way of
life. They are precious playgrounds in which groups of
committed people can experiment to find solutions for
some of the challenges we face globally. Rapidly gaining
recognition as demonstration sites of sustainability in
practice, ecovillages naturally become places of
inspiration within their regions and societies. Within
them, new approaches can be seen, tasted and touched,
Ideally, every village and every city on this planet
would become an ecovillage or a green city, with econeigbourhoods. We seem to think that we cannot live on
this earth without destroying the very foundations that
our life rests upon. But ecovillages showcase what old
wisdom traditions taught: that communities can both
sustain and regenerate life through intelligent and loving
interventions. In community, we can replenish soils,
diversify ecosystems, replant forests and purify waters;
we can heal wounds of the past; find solutions; we can live
in a web of fulfilling human relationships. All the
necessary ingredients are available, if we would only
dedicate our hearts and our minds to this most crucial
endeavour: the transition to a viable future,
A core question arises: how can the ecovillage approach
be disseminated at scale without losing its core values?

One of the answers comes with education. At GENs 10th


anniversary celebration in 2005, Gaia Education was

launched as its educational arm to bring the learning from


ecovillages to the broader public,
1 was deeply honoured to be amongst 24 ecovillage
educators from around the world who met in Findhorn,
Scotland, in 2004, to bring together the best of what we
wanted to share. The Ecovillage Design Education
Curriculum (EDE) was born and became a recognised
contribution to the UN Decade of Education for
Sustainable Development, 2004-2014. The EDE is a 4week long training, universal in scope but local in
application. Through the EDE, communities can design
their own pathways into the future, combining existing
strengths in all four dimensions of sustainability with
leverage points for successful change. Today, the EDE has
been delivered in 34 countries around the world, and is
being developed into Bachelor and Masters degree courses.
A second answer lies in closer collaboration with other
sectors of society. During the first years of GEN,
ecovillages tended to act as islands turning inwards on
themselves. Today ecovillages are opening up, and seeing
themselves as an integral part of a much broader
movement of change, GEN is building alliances, not only
with like-minded organisations such as Transition Town
and Permaculture Networks, but also with governmental
authorities, corporations and academia,

We can also learn from current examples in Senegal

and Thailand, where bridges between civil society,


governmental decision-makers and the corporate sector
are supporting community-led responses to climate
change on regional and national levels, GEN-Senegal was
formed in 2002, showcasing best practices like solar
cookers, drip irrigation, permaculture design and
reforestation programmes in a network of 45 ecovillages.
The Senegalese government, inspired by these examples,
later established a National Agency for Ecovillages, ANEV,
positioned within the Ministry of Environment and
Sustainable Development. Today, Senegal is the first
country in the world to create an integrated national
ecovillage programme, dedicated to transitioning 14,000
traditional villages to ecovillages- . In December 2014, a
Global Ecovillage Summit was hosted by GEN in
collaboration with the Senegalese Government. The
Senegalese Prime Minister, addressing the ecovillage
delegates from 40 countries, expressed his personal
commitment, as well as that of his President, to promote
the ecovillage concept across the African continent.
GEN and the EDE provide invaluable ways of reaching
beyond hopeful visions and mere words to true
community empowerment. Local communities become
inspired to design their own pathways into the future and
start influencing decision-makers and policies through an
'Adaptive Governance Cycle that marries bottom-up with

top-down approaches. It brings people a step closer to a


true democracy that trusts in the inherent wisdom of
people.
One of the most underutilised resources we have on the
planet today is the good intentions of citizens and our
willingness to make a difference. GEN helps to unleash
this potential and provides a glimpse into the beautiful
world that can emerge from many thousands of local
solutions, woven into one colourful tapestry of resilience,
This is the time to heal apartheid, not on the level of any
one country, but within humanity as a whole. Within the
networks of GEN, when Boniface from Bangladesh, Lua
from DRCongo, Margarita from Colombia, Claudian from
Romania and Aida from Palestine gather to share what is
happening in their communities, we move beyond any
concept of global awarenes s and go straight to the heart of
humanity. We know that we are one, celebrating our
successes and mourning our losses together. We are all on
the same journey - answering the call of future
generations to wake up,
Another worldis not onlypossible, sheis on her way. On a quiet
day,Ican hearher breathing. ArundhatiRoy

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The Power of Community


by Leila Dregger
Core Competencies of Ecovillages
In the Occupy movement over the past few years, whether
on Wall Street, in Madrid or in Cairo, one phenomenon has
kept cropping up: young people today, so often primed
for competition and pressured to perform, but sobered by
the lack of meaningful prospects experienced the
miracle of community. Again and again, realising that
their problems were shared by others, they joined forces
and together found out-of-the-box solutions. They
invented new forms of communication and democratic
rules, shared their food and their thoughts, came up with
collective action, experienced love and felt understood,
Anything seemed possible! Hardly anyone wanted to go
back home. This was real life and they never wanted it to
stop.

They had found gold dust but after a short while it


began to run through their fingers. As endless discussions
dealt with banalities and the essential issues were no
longer addressed; as the majority fell silent and the rest
argued endlessly the exhausting hamster wheel of
competition began to turn again. There was a lack of

experience and knowledge about how to unite a group


more permanently. The dream shattered often some
time before the police and the army cleared the camps,
This is not surprising. The dominant paradigm in
today' s society is still: 'best to trust yourself . In politics,
business and everyday life we are still used to
competition, separation and working against one another,
and this stance also dominates our emotional inner world,
This is how most of us were conditioned and this is
how we will drive the Earth to its ruin. Without the
authentic experience of wholeness and community,
without feeling what connects us and without this "web
of kinship, the invisible glue that binds us (Albert Bates),
we will not be able to react jointly, quickly and effectively
to a world that is changing faster and faster,
On closer analysis it seems that most of the innovative
projects and initiatives that fail do not do so because of
external threats, but because of internal quarrels power
struggles, secrecy or jealousy. Imagine how climate
negotiations would develop if politicians and lobbyists
were to detach themselves from their own individual
interests and work resolutely for the common good. In
order for the 'beautiful world that we dream about to
become reality, we need to create a new social paradigm
with communities of trust at its core,
This is precisely the core competence that ecovillages
and intentional communities bring to the table. For all

their diversity, they have one thing in common: they have


decided to deal with their issues and challenges as a
community and to continue doing so in s pite of the
conflicts, difficulties and signs of fatigue that inevitably
occur. Those communities that have survived their ups
and downs, their experiments and mistakes, that have
risen from the ashes again and again and that continue to
exist, often into the second or third generation, have
collected valuable experiences and are willing to pass
them on,

What is community?
Everything lives in community. From planetary systems
to groups of cells, all life finds its place and its uniqueness
through interactions with others, within the framework
of a greater whole. As single-celled organisms became
multi-cellular, the possibilities of perception and
movement multiplied. In a healthy organism, each organ
relies on the other. No liver has to fight a kidney for
oxygen. No lung ever thinks that it needs to act just like
the heart. It is only together, in their diversity,
coordinated through the mysterious principle of self
organisation our great evolutionary ally that they are
successful. The biologist Bruce Lipton says: "If the cells in
a body were living in competition and distrust, the way
humans do among each other, they would fall apart
almost immediately,"
The community is the original home of humans. As the

archaeologist Marija Gimbutas and many other historians


describe it, the original tribal cultures that existed
worldwide knew relatively little violence or punishment.
Sexuality, she maintains, was often dealt with in a relaxed
way, women and men were relatively equal and instead of
a hierarchy there was probably a circle in which decisions
were taken together. Judging by the millennia that these
cultures existed, they must have lived sustainably. If the
life of an animal or a plant had to be taken, it seems to
have been done with respect. Tribes sensed when they had
reached an ecological limit and moved on. In this context,
enriching oneself at the expense of the community was
not simply a sign of immorality, but of insanity. The
global greed that today is turning the Earth into a looted
department store is rooted in this insanity. It is based on
the loss of our sense of belonging to a community of life,
This separation is the collective trauma of humanity, A
huge amount of emotional suffering is due to our loss of
community,
When the African cultural ambassador, Sobonfu Some,
travelled to the United States for the first time, and visited
a family, she was surprised, and asked; "But where are all
the others?" Yes, where are they the neighbours,
friends, sisters, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces and
companions who give our lives warmth, meaning and
quality? Why have we banished so many opportunities
for intimacy from our lives, so much contact, exchange,

mutual assistance, cooperation, friction, feedback and


learning from each other?
Historians can fairly precisely determine when the
original tribes disappeared in each region. Broadly
speaking, this coincided with the Neolithic revolution,
when in many places at around the same time, a new kind
of social organisation, based on ploughing land and the
domestication of animals, arose and spread rapidly across
much of the world. These new societies used violence and
replaced complementarity and cooperation with
command-and-control hierarchies,
This development in the way humans organised
themselves in the world probably coincided with other
changes in their inner development and self-organisation,
We can speculate that the growing self-awareness of
human beings at that time led to calls for societal forms to
transform, so that people could find more freedom and
liberation from established traditions and conventions,
But instead of creating new forms of community, allowing
for more individual expression, human beings turned to
the rigidities of hierarchy and patriarchy and cut
themselves off from community. This strategy did not
bring the desired freedom on the contrary; the human
being created a prison of loneliness for himself,
If the longing for community remains unfulfilled,
people often become members of fan clubs or cults instead
and conform to views that, deep in their hearts, they do

not really share. If isolated, a human being is ready to

cross boundaries of good taste, common sense and

compassion in order to somehow belong. Fascism used


this fact mercilessly for its own purposes,
True community needs to sustain individual
uniqueness and expression as well as a sense of
belonging,

How do communities gain permanence?


Below, you will find some guiding ideas, not a
methodology, on building permanence into communities,
Ultimately, each community must find its own workable
methods and refine them again and again, so that they
remain alive. But there are some helpful experiences,
some of whichI would like to share here,

Community andindividual
"Individuality,., is a community endeavor says the
sociologist Dieter Duhm. Future communities are not
characterised by conformity, but by pronounced
individuality and diversity. In our communities we need
to leave enough space for the development of the
individual, enough time for being alone and for mutual
recognition. We see how differences and diversity enrich
our communities. We also recognise the difference
between the 1 and the ego; whereas the ego separates, the 1
is always something that connects,
There is no functioning community without

individuality. Conversely, there is no individuality


without community: we cannot develop it alone behind
closed doors; we need contact, feedback and friction to
recognise who we are and to gain a sense of our strengths
and weaknesses. The community can provide a safe place
to find and speak our personal truth,

A commongoal
There is no community where the members always like
each other. It is like what happens in a personal
relationship: when the initial infatuation subsides and
the projections crumble, we must decide whether we wish
to go our separate ways or find something that is stronger
than momentary sympathy or antipathy. In the 1 Ching it
says: "It is not the private interests of the individual that
create lasting community, but rather the goals of
humanity. Global compassion and a common goal with
which the members can identify are essential, A strong
bond arises among members when they notice that they
complement each other and can trust each other in
relation to the common goal.

Transparent# andtrust
Trust arises through transparency. It arises when you are

seen in your innermost self and see the innermost self of


the other. And that occurs when you show yourself. It is
surprising what a heavy burden is lifted when you know
that you dont have to fear being secretly judged and that

the others will tell you if there is something about you


they dont like. Instead of secret gossip, every community
needs processes and methods to help make what is going
on beneath the surface visible all those things that are
politely concealed and suppressed, but that ultimately
pollute the atmosphere unless they are cleared out. Such a
process needs to have its roots in humour, benevolence
and human knowledge; it is not a question of hurting each
other, but of showing oneself and understanding and
liberating each other. Free expression, within a space
where one does not need to worry about frightened or
angry reactions from others, is liberating for every
community,

Leadershipstructure andgrassroots
democracy
The role model for decision-making in community is no
longer the pyramid, but the circle. The Native American
Manitonquat writes; "In a circle, everyone is a leader. This
means that everyone takes responsibility for the entire
circle. Without participative decision structures, in
which all voices are heard, no community will arise. But
grassroots democracy requires mature people with
leadership qualities, so that responsibility can truly be
shared. And it requires human knowledge and the
willingness to be transparent: so many agonising socalled objective debates can be seen to be sham fights once

what is going on beneath the surface becomes visible.


Ultimately, decisions should be made by those who are
willing to take responsibility. To achieve this, and to move
beyond the strict consensus model, many organisational
tools have been developed in recent years.

Gender dynamics
Differences, attractions and misunderstandings between
men and women create a dynamic in every community
it does no good to ignore it. So-called female qualities,
such as care, empathy, compassion, pragmatism or the
ability to listen no matter whether they appear in men
or in women are essential elements in communities
and are more in demand than in the normal business
world. According to the Iroquois Constitution, a leader
should be like a good mother. Every community is only
as good as its ability to honour the female qualities. And
male qualities too, 1 would like to add: far-sightedness,
strength of purpose, rationality, theory, drive no matter
whether they are found in men or women are equally
important for the ecovillage movement. A community
needs to find ways of becoming aware of and balancing
these qualities.
Most communities find men's and women's circles to
be useful instruments for exchange, confirmation and a
sense of home. Communities can embed lovers and
families in a healing environment: in case of conflict, it
helps to have friends who do not take sides with one or the

other, but side with the love and truth between them.

Community of communities
Everything that has been said about individuals here is
also true for communities in relationship to one another,
In GEN (Global Ecovillage Network), we are in the midst of
this process; individual communities open up to one
another, recognise each other, become aware of how much
they have in common despite all their differences. It is
especially the differences that provide great potential for
communities to complement one another They share
their experiences and cooperate at an ever deeper level,
From GEN conference to GEN conference we have
observed how the communities let go of old competitive
modes of behaviour and open up with their questions,
issues and strengths and learn from each other. This
process is far from complete but already now we are
benefiting from the diversity of this global family,
Ecovillages in the North and the South are entering into
committed partnerships of mutual assistance and
responsibility. They take on their common challenges
within their regions and work together with city planners,
mayors and citizens initiatives to stimulate their rural
districts and make them sustainable. Ecovillages are
seeing themselves less and less as individual phenomena,
but increasingly as a part of a larger whole,
We call this whole the community of communities,
This includes intentional communities and

neighbourhood initiatives, traditional village


communities, action groups for more democratic and
ecological awareness, self-help groups in slums, ecocaravans and initiatives in refugee camps. Ultimately, it
encompasses all groups and people who know that we can
only achieve our goals together,

TheFive Dimensions of
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The Ecovillage Design Mandala was created by ecovillage

educators in 2004, as the core symbol of the Ecovillage


Design Education (EDE), It is a holistic map for
sustainable design and development, embracing the
social, worldview, ecological and economic dimensions of
sustainability. The mandala can be applied to systems on
all levels: to the life of an individual, an organisation, an
intentional community, traditional village, urban
neighbourhood, a region, etc. Over the years, integral or
participatory design was clearly recognised as a fifth
dimension and placed at the centre of the Mandala, In
some contexts, the word 'worldview is replaced by
'culture.
Ecovillages have a wealth of experience, methods and
tools to share in each of these Five dimensions and the
Solution Library is organised accordingly.

Culture and Worldview


Ecovillages grow within a wide variety of cultures,
spiritual frameworks and worldviews, but some values
are universal: the respect for life, inclusivity and
embracing diversity, the cultivation of generosity and
hospitality, openness to feedback, to name but a few,
Responsibility and active care for the Earth and all its
inhabitants are the basis for a life-sustaining culture. This
ethic transcends all cultures and religions,

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Living in community is a permanent education,
teaching us to relate to all life and to our self with more
honesty and transparency. We learn to expand our
responsibility (our ability to respond), our friendship and
tolerance, even towards those beings who look, feel or
think, very differently, or those who follow a different
spiritual practice. Some individual ecovillages have been
accused of being "sects, because of their choice to explore a
particular way of life that is different from the
surrounding societal context. However, the simple fact
that they form part of a rich and diverse, yet closely
knitted, network through GEN, where they interact across
all seeming divides with great openness and tolerance,

points in the opposite direction. Cultural and spiritual


diversity, like biodiversity, is a very precious resource on
our journey into the future. Today, young people across
the world can feel uncomfortable in their skins; they can
feel too dark or too light, too fat or too slim. In GEN, we
celebrate the beauty and wealth of diversity and cherish
the gems of traditional wisdom that may hold seeds for a
resilient future.

The Ecological Dimension


Ecovillages show that low-impact, high-quality lifestyles
are possible: water, food, building materials and energy
can be obtained in sufficient quantities in healthy
regional cycles. In the Global South food and energy
sovereignty are decisive factors for survival and freedom
of choice. Cities can build healthy regional relationships
and even surround themselves with an 'ecovillage belt'.
More sustainable than suburbia by far! Replace those
lawns with vegetable gardens!!

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Energy autonomy: The ecological footprint of any

community can be reduced substantially with ecological


building techniques and thermal insulation, passive and
active use of solar energy, as well as the replacement of
energy-intensive forms of transport,
Water: Water consumption and sewage quantities can be
reduced significantly by means of rainwater harvesting
and storage, constructed wetlands for wastewater
treatment, separation of drinking water and grey water,
and compost toilets,
Food; Most ecovillages produce their own food and use

their own fruit, vegetable, grain and animal products. The


most important principles in this area are: companion
planting, diversity, no artificial fertilisers or pesticides,
use of own seeds and freshness,
Construction: An increase in the quality of life and
environmental conservation is made possible by the use
of regionally sourced, natural building and insulation
materials such as clay, paper, straw and waste,

Waste: Natures example is to be followed here as


ecovillages reduce and eliminate their waste by means of
closed cycles, composting and reusing. Ecological
footprint studies have been undertaken in ecovillages and
some of the lowest footprints in the industrial world have
been measured here,

The Social Dimension

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Another vital factor in sustainability is the art of living


and creating together: it is no use having the best farming
or energy systems, organic houses and closed water and
recycling cycles if we do not enjoy being together, Over the
years, ecovillages and intentional communities have
matured and become extremely skilful and experienced at
communication, conflict facilitation, participatory
decision-making, supporting individuals to find their
place in the whole, and to thrive, healing past trauma and
rebuilding trust. Communities have moved 'beyond
consensus to more refined structures that explore our
capacity in human teams and organisations to become
more than the sum of our parts, instead of meeting

around the lowest common denominator. Collective


wisdom is the new frontier; how can we truly pool our
intelligence and intention in order to implement all the
solutions we already hold in our hands and find those that
are still needed?
The communities that overcame their crises and
gained valuable experiences in doing so are now offering
their knowledge to new initiatives.

TheEconomic Dimension
Fair, just, in solidarity, transparent, regenerative and
interest-free these are the hallmarks of a sustainable
way of conducting business. Regional and local economic
cycles need a corresponding finance system that retains
value in the region.

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Residents of ecovillages are conscious consumers,
producers and traders mainly of local goods. Within
their community and in the region, they are establishing
models for a new economy. Here small-scale economic
experiments can take place, on the basis of trust and
pioneering spirit: from communal savings cooperatives to
regional currencies, from barter trade circles to
community banks and gift economies,
There are many questions when it comes to the
economic design of communities. And different
ecovillages have found different answers. How is land
ownership organised? Which legal forms work best?
Should our businesses be run privately or cooperatively?

is work for the community paid? Do individuals have


separate incomes or is income shared? Which funds are
organised communally? How does the community care
for its members when they are ill, or in old age? What

happens when members of the community leave?


Regardless of the specific form a community chooses,
trust, communication and close feedback loops are
essential for the system to work,

Participatory or Integral Design


At the heart of what distinguishes ecovillages from

mainstream communities lies a process of participatory


design that gives ownership over the process to the
inhabitants. Ecovillages cannot be designed by outside
developers and architects, they spring from the dreams of
the people and their wish to make a difference by taking
their future into their own hands. Off course, the
inhabitants can invite experts to support them in
whatever way feels helpful, GEN has gained a rich
experience in facilitating such communal design
processes, and has professional teams on all continents.
The EDE can be used to support such a design process,
The process starts by listening to the dreams and
visions of the participants. What is the future they would
like to see for their children? Then, they identify the
strengths and weaknesses of their community/village in
each of the dimensions of the mandala. How connected
are individuals to nature? How strong is the sense of self

worth and cultural celebration? How are conflicts dealt


with? How is leadership shared? How are natural
resources used and eco-systems regenerated? How
sustainable are people economically? How could the
environment be designed to support free energy flow and
increased resilience on all levels? These and many more
questions are with us as we explore together, whilst also
allowing ourselves to be inspired by best-practice
examples from all over the world
The participants then go on to identify and design
leverage points in each of the dimensions: steps can then
be taken and projects can be realised, which will have a
maximum impact for minimum effort. We start by
harvesting the low-hanging fruits. An experience of
success helps maintain momentum!
Within the group, we also find out who naturally takes
responsibility for which parts of the emerging design,
while at the same time giving everyone a sense of
ownership over the whole process. Teams emerge that
refine the designs for particular areas. These teams draw
in others from the community to take implementation
forward after the course. If any tensions arise these
provide welcome input for the practice of conflict
facilitation skills,
Through this process the web of mutual recognition
and trust amongst participants is strengthened. Regular
meetings take place to present the ensuing 'Community

Resilience Plan, a living document, to further


stakeholders.

EUROPE

The Stillness at the Centre


Findhom / Scotland
One of the oldest ecovillages is Findhorn in Scotland,

founded in 1962, Robin Alfred has had a leading position


since 1995 and shares his story of the Findhorn
Foundation,

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Robin Alfred

Robin Alfred
It is the Wednesday evening of Experience Week, 1 am

sitting in a circle with 15 other people, three men and


twelve women, in the Beech Tree Room in Cluny Hill
one of the FindhornFoundation's two main campuses. 1
look around the circle and feel love for everybody present,
1 have never felt quite like this before. In my 'normal' life
in London 1 am a criminal justice social worker, highly
opinionated and very politically engaged, 1 am a cardcarrying member of the Labour Party and a member of

every campaigning organisationI can lay my hands on,


from the London Cycling Campaign to Amnesty and

Greenpeace, The world is clearly separated into rightminded people like me and everybody else. Politics,
personalities and personas separate me from most of the
world. But at this moment in the Beech Tree RoomI am
connecting to something beyond the personality; a soft,
sometimes covered and distant place that resides in the
heart and soul of everyone. That evening in my journal 1
write 'Life will never be the same, 1 want to live in a place
and in a way where 1 can continue to experience this
unconditional love',
What had drawn me to Findhorn was a leaflet handed
to me by a homeopath 1 was seeing in London at that time,
1 knew very little about the Findhorn Foundation and
went on a whim. Why not? However, most of the people
drawn to my Experience Week were already aware of the
dream and founding impulses of this amazing,
internationally renowned 'intendedbut unintentional'
community,

Foundation
On November 17th 1962 Eileen Caddy, Peter Caddy and

Dorothy Maclean had towed their caravan and the three


Caddy children to an inauspicious site in Findhorn Bay
Caravan Park, They needed somewhere to live and the
means to sustain them. In sandy soil, and embedded in an
unfavourable climate, they began to garden. This,

however, was no ordinary garden. Each of the three


founders was already steeped in spiritual awareness,
Eileen was a meditator, a member of the moral
rearmament movement of the 1950s; Peter was a
Rosicrucian and a practitioner of inspired, positive
thinking; Dorothy had a background in Sufism, and had
learnt the hard way to put God first in everything,
Applying these spiritual principles both to the garden and
to their lives as a whole, they began an experiment in co
creation to live a life, where humanity, divinity and
nature ' s intelligence were working together,
Over the next 50 years a community organically grew
from these roots. The garden yielded legendary 40lb
cabbages, which attracted both doubting scientists and
spiritual seekers. Something interesting was clearly going
on[ The number of visitors grew and grew and soon
required structured programmes and guest
accommodation to hold them. An introductory Experience
Week, the building of seven cedar wood bungalows, and
in time the building of art studios, a community centre
and, of course, a sanctuary followed,
Now we are a community of over 600: 120 coworkers
in the Findhorn Foundation receiving food and
accommodation and a small allowance for their service,
and around 500 people living locally, drawn by the
impulse seeded in 1962. We have the highest
concentration of social enterprises in the UK (over 45 at

the last count) and a vibrant community body, the New


Findhorn Association, coordinating the communitys
activities. The Foundation itself, the charity at the heart of
the community, now has over 5 million of assets, and an
annual income of around 2 million. It provides personal
development workshops and sustainability trainings,
ranging in length from a few days to a few months, to over
2,000 people a year and has received countless awards as
a workshop centre and honouring its built environment,
Its ecological footprint is approximately half that of the
UK national average and one of the lowest recorded in the
Western world. The Foundation is also a recognised NGO
of the United Nations, and Eileen Caddy received the
Queens MBE for her services to spiritual inquiry several
years before her passing in 2006, A lot has transpired in
these 50-60 years, including a conscious shift somewhere
in the mid-1990s from being an 'alternative to the
mainstream to being 'complementary. Partnerships now
abound, and we are regularly consulted by local
government, town planners, mayors and students about
matters relating to sustainability and resilience,

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TheFindhorn Garden was createdout ofcooperation betweenpeople


andnature beings andstillattracts manyguests to theFindhorn
community'.

LeadershipPrinciples
During the four years following my Experience Week, 1
visited the Foundation a couple of times and in 1995 came
to do a three-month arts programme and never left. Much
to my surprise after eight months of working in the Park
Homecare Department, learning to clean toilets and fold
sheets with love and presence, 1 was asked to focalise the
Foundations reinvention process, looking at all the
fundamentals of our community. Since then 1 have served
in various leadership positions including Chair of

Management and Chair of the Board of Trustees, My


learnings have been immense. In this article, 1 would like
to focus on challenges and responses in the social and
economic domains,

Peter, Dorothy and Eileen embodied three archetypes of


leadership, Peter was a man of action, of focused will and
intention the masculine archetype. Eileen lived the
feminine principle of receptivity and inner listening; 'Be
still and know that 1 am God; while Dorothy attuned to
what she termed the Devas intelligences that overlight
different species and aspects of nature and humanity. The
combination of these three principles lies not only at the
heart of this community, but at the heart of any
successful enterprise. Leadership is only effective when it
can harness the masculine, the feminine and the cocreative principles,
One can track the rise and fall in fortune of this
community by the presence or absence of these principles.
Arguably Peters and Dorothys departure from the
community in the 1970s, while Eileen remained resident,
has meant that the feminine principle of listening to the
'still small voice within lives most strongly in the
community, Dorothy ' s return to the community in 2009
led to renewed enthusiasm for the application of the
principles of co-creation with nature. Rightly or wrongly
many have bemoaned the lack of the masculine energy.
Certainly as a leader 1 found the need to cloak my

masculine drive with as much feminine grace and


subtlety as 1 could muster. At times, we are more gifted at
developing appropriate processes and nurturing healthy
relationships than achieving the task,
One of the many ways the feminine principle
manifests is in the desire to sit in circles and reach
consensus in decision-making. We have come a long way
from the mythical days when 300 people needed to agree
the colour of the new carpet in the Cluny Dining Room but
decision-making is still a long and complex process. We
have seen the benefit of mandating smaller groups to
make decisions in the areas for which they are
res ponsible, W e have also learnt about the tyranny of the
naysayer and have developed decision-making processes
that go beyond seeking unanimity. Asking those who
disagree with a proposal if they are willing to be 'a loyal
minority, i.e, someone who disagrees with a decision but
will not sabotage its implementation, is a helpful way to
build consensus when unanimity is not possible. More
recently we have started to work with Sociocracy, seeking
consent rather than consensus,

Economy
On the economic front, like many ecovillages and also like
many who live in this part of Scotland, we are continually

challenged. The Foundation survives largely because its


members are willing to work, in essence, as volunteers
while affluence in the wider community is also difficult to

achieve. Our responses to this have been several:

In 2001 we created Ekopia, an Industrial Provident


Society that serves as a vehicle for ethical investment in
the community. At the time of writing there is around
1 million invested in a range of community projects
including the Moray Steiner School, Findhorn Wind
Park and the Phoenix Community Stores.
* In 2002 we created our own currency, the Eko, issued by
Ekopia and redeemable on a 1 for 1 Eko basis. While
small in value (around 20,000 Ekos are circulating at
any one time) the Eko serves to stimulate local trading
and raise awareness that every time we shop we vote.
Shopping locally helps build a diverse and more
economically sustainable community.
* Lastly and most importantly, from the very earliest
days of the community, we work with the Laws of
Manifestation, codified in the 1970s by David Spangler.
In essence this means that if we tune in to what the
universe wants to happen and focus our inner work to
align with that intention, then the resources to realise
these projects are more likely to be manifested. From the
construction of the art studios, Community Centre and
Universal Hall in the 1970s, through the purchase of
the Caravan Park in 1983, to the more recent
manifestation of the widely acclaimed Moray Art
Centre, stories of these laws in action are legion, dDo

what you love and the money will come', or Teel the
fear and do it anyway' are everyday descriptions of
these same laws in action. It is impossible to think of
the Findhorn Foundation's unfolding history in the
absence of the application of this core principle. It is
important to note that this is not the same as simply
saying you will get whatever you wish for. Your wishes
need to be in tune with what God or Spirit wills,
After 5 years' working in the heart of the community,
while living in a romantic, funky and mould-ridden
caravan in the Pineridge area of The Park, 1 moved to rent
a home in nearby Findhorn Village, Eileen, who 1 have
been blessed to count as a dear friend and mentor, told me
1 was 'taking an outbreath'. It felt like that,Ibecame one of
about a dozen non-resident coworkers, receiving a
minimum wage salary but being responsible for my own
home, energy bills and food, while still working full-time
for the Foundation, This trend, particularly for longerterm Foundation members, is very much alive,

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Exhale
In conclusion, what interests me most about the four

dimensions of the ecovillage, a concept that, if not created


here it was certainly pioneered here by John Talbott and
others, is not so much the brilliance of identifying the
social, economic, environmental and cultural dimensions
to sustainability, but attending to the stillness at the
centre from which they all derive. In the words of Eileen
Caddy:
"Doyou want to do something to help the worldsituation? Then look

within. Asyou changeyour consciousness to love\ peace, harmony


andunity, theconsciousness of the whole world willchange, **

www,_ findhorn,org

Keywords for Solution Library:


Living Machine designing sustainable wastewater
treatment systems for urban settings
Tuning In supporting communities and groups to
coalesce around clear intention
The Laws of Manifestation using clear intention as a
tool for manifestation
solution.eco village, org

A Community of Foster Families


Kitezh / Russia
Kitezh is a community and ecovillage dedicated to the
nurturing of foster children, Andrew Aikman first heard
of Kitezh in 1994 and first visited the community in 2006,
He has lived there ever since, teaching English, working as
a carpenter in the workshop and supervising Western
volunteers,

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Kitezh is a hamlet, around 360 km south of Moscow,
surrounded by forests and close to the small village of
Chumazovo, A lake lies between Kitezh and Chumazovo,
covered with bright green weeds in spring, and sealed over

by half a metre of ice in the winter. The hamlet consists of


just over sixteen houses, a school, a workshop, and several
outbuildings, including a cowshed. Though its 'footprint
is naturally small, ecological sustainability is not the first
priority,
In the latter days of the Soviet Union a well-known
correspondent for Mayak Radio in Russia, Dmitry
Morozov, observed the plight of street children, living
without the support of parents in his country. The Soviet
Union fell apart, and with it the ideals of communism.
Morozov, well educated and travelled, did not see
mainstream Western values as a better alternative. So in
those chaotic post-Soviet years, he set out to create a
community that offered a different way of life, aspiring to
the best of human values,
Morozov used his opportunity as a broadcaster to air
his views and ask for support. The response was
heartening. Many people started visiting the area. The
local government in the Kaluga region saw their chance to
polish their image: "Lets offer him a patch of land here;
itll look good for us. His scheme is likely to fail anyway,
and well get the land back again, That was in 1992,
Kitezh is still here, and now very much supported by the
new regional governor. In the early days there were of
course suspicions and mistrust, but good relationships
have been fostered by openness; by inviting local, regional
and eventually national officials and workers in the same

field (education and social work), to visit Kitezh and see


what happens here,
At the beginning there were no inside toilets, and the
winter temperatures fall to -30C, The pioneers, almost
entirely city people from many walks of life, built the
houses and the school of Kitezh by hand, summer and
winter, sustained by the salary of Morozov and donations
of well-wishers. These were times of optimism, idealism,
very hard work and humour. As the doctor,Marina, a
sophisticated Muscovite, recalls, "1 came in my long coat,
and my elegant white gloves, and Morozov looked me up
and down and thought, 'she wont last the winter. Well,
I've been here seventeen years now,

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andto theirfosterfamilies,

A Home for Social Practices


The care and nurture of children is the purpose of life in
Kitezh. Officially, Russia has about 700,000 'social
orphans. Their biological parents are often still living but
have, usually because of alcoholism, been declared unfit
to parent their children, "Sometimes my mum didnt come
home for days and there wasnt anything to eat in the
house. 1 went to my grans and she fed me. When my
mum came home, gran shouted at her, but it didnt make
any difference. Every nation has its social casualties,
The community, now led by Maxim Aneekiev, helps
children adapt to everyday life, to overcome their trauma
and pain. Children learn, not by listening to adults, but by
exploring a therapeutic environment of challenges, care
and love. The quality and inner world that adults bring
help to create and influence this environment. As Morozov
commented, "perhaps it would be best to develop the
adults first, before they work with the children. In reality,
though, they develop alongside the children. This is the
natural way. Through the reflective awareness of the
reality of everyday activity,., adults understand the
necessity to change and work with their own attitude
towards life. By helping others they are helping
themselves.

Learning Through Playing


There are regular 'awareness5 meetings, when children
gather in small groups and talk about what they have
learned and understood about life in the last few days. It
might be the beauty of a moonlit night, or the feeling of
pain or joy when a child thinks about some past event.
Thus they learn to understand themselves and what their
feelings tell them. Kitezh has an excellent theatre director,
Through acting, 'pretending' to be someone else, children
learn about themselves, and how they are 'playing' their
own character. Especially during the first month and
throughout the year, there are kafchek evenings. The
word means 'ark' as in Noah's ark, the place of safety,
Children choose adults they want to meet not their
(foster) parents and spend an hour or so having tea,
getting to know them, discovering each other as real
people,
In this therapeutic environment, the worldisn't split
up into insulated segments of school, home, medical
services, private/social life and so on. The community is
the social workers, who are also the teachers, the parents,
the psychologists, and all! Children know their teachers,
for they are the parents, or parents of friends. In the words
of Maxim Anikeev: "We are building an educational
system drawing on the interests of the child. The teachers
must be flexible and empathetic with their needs,
Teaching and nurturing our children is the business of all

adult residents of the village, including the bus driver and


the cook. All questions are relevant, how and when to run
the lessons, whether to do homework in groups or
individually, how to draw out the strengths of the
children, fill in the gaps in their knowledge,., to replace
'scars with a proper appraisal of successes and failures,
For a child that did not experience love and care as an
infant, love-deficit can easily become a black hole, which
may never be filled. Here the strength of the community
of foster parents comes into its own. Once a child has
joined our family (the community), there is no 'giving up.
The burden is shared, but so are the joys. There are many
difficult issues as our fostered children adapt to socially
acceptable behaviour, e.g, not stealing. In orphanages,
taking what you can is a survival mechanism; theres
never enough. And hoarding is security. Stealing and
hoarding are effective survival behaviour. As one boy put
it, "having to beg is so shameful!
When 1 was learning to be a teacher, we were told,
'dont give the children your heart, they will take it and
break it. Here, in Kitezh, we give the children our hearts
but within the united strength of a community. The
teenager who 'hates his parents can find another family
in the village until the storm has passed usually after a
few months, Foster parents focus on frequent and explicit
demonstrations of their love for the teenager,
Occasionally, after completing school, a young adult

remains within the safety of the community for a while,


working as a volunteer, in the kitchen, or the garden or the
farm, while we wait for them to grow, emotionally, into
full maturity and readiness to leave. The therapeutic
structure of Kitezh is referred to as 'The Garnet Drama and
opportunity are interwoven into a series of flexible but
increasingly challenging steps, leading the child towards
self-responsible adulthood,
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In the community, children andyouth are learning to trust again, to


speak their truth andto share;

Justice
The weekly meetings help bindthe community together.

Beginning with greeting each other, we recognise who is


there, who is not. Then, the weeks diary; for fostered
children, unpredictability equals fear, they need to know
what and who to expect. Next, the 'business; anyone,
from the youngest to the oldest can bring up any issue in
the knowledge that they will be listened to, and taken
seriously. For instance, the children might say; "The
dishwasher doesnt work properly," "Who is looking after
the chickens? or "Can we play the game of 'secret friend'"?
All such questions are resolved by community discussion,
not by the adult minority. Then we discuss who has
achieved which steps in 'The Game', and what we are
looking forward to? Lastly, thanks a sharing of
appreciation, and all end with a moment of silence,
Justice, too, is a very public concern. Anyone can call
for justice, and The Court seeks to find 'resolution, not
retribution. Often offenders, when they have accepted
their 'offence', make amendments in the form of work or
giving back. But this too is with their agreement and
acceptance. The very public nature of the court helps
many to understand the implications of their own
behaviour. However, fostering siblings presents its own
problems; when the values of Kitezh and those of the
'family clan' conflict, the child will almost always stick
with the clan. Sonya was a small child when she came to
Kitezh with her many siblings. As she grew and continued
to reject our way of life, we realised that her agreement to

live here was primarily a choice to remain with her


siblings. So we asked an orphanage to take her in for a
couple of weeks, so that she could look at her situation,
and make a real choice to live in Kitezh, or not. She decided
to come back and, especially once all her older siblings
had left, we saw real change,

Expanding
The work of Kitezh has become better known in the region
and in Moscow through the Role Play Games run during
the holidays. These events, lasting up to two weeks, are
designed to help children confront their own issues with
courage, and with the support of their friends. Through
these public events, Kitezh has expanded to take in
children who come from 'good families, but are not
thriving in normal school in the city,
From the early days of Kitezh, there have been
meaningful international connections, beginning with
Liza Hollingshead and Ecologia Youth Trust from
Findhorn in Scotland. In 1995, the first group of young
people from abroad came to experience Russia and taste
the Kitezh way of life. With the continued help of Ecologia
Youth Trust, Kitezh runs a programme for international
volunteers to spend up to three months experiencing and
supporting our work. We receive students of Russian
language and culture, youth groups from America,
Canada and England, and older individuals interested in
our work,

Kitezh has been the subject of many short television


items and articles in the press. Dmitri Morozov has
received national recognition for his work andMaxim
Anikeev has published a number of papers and gives
lectures on the nurturing of disadvantaged children.

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Keywords for Solution Library:


Schooling without Fear educating children in a
compassionate way
The Self-Empowerment Game challenging adolescents
to grow their self-esteem
solution.eco village:org

BalancingIndividuality and
Community
Damanhur / Italy
Damanhur is a Federation of 26 communities located in
Piedmont, Northern Italy which explore different aspects
of ecovillage life, Damanhur has its own currency and an
in-depth cultural identity. Humour, the joy of art and
creativity, clear organisational structures, and plenty of
work are the main features of Damanhur.

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Macaco Tamerice*
singer 1 was very successful in Japan, Once
success and career became my reality, 1 knew 1 no longer
wanted to live in this world of illusions, 22 years ago 1
decided to move to Damanhur. 1 had always thought that
for a person like me, with a strong sense of individuality,
living in community would be impossible,Isoon realised
however that 1 was much happier in community than
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ever before,

Formica Coriandolo*
3 1 years ago 1 lived with friends in the historic part of
Florence. 1 owned a motorbike, had a great job, but felt like

1 was missing something. ThenI watched a TV


programme about Damanhur: an interview with its

founder Falco. He spoke of solidarity, about helping one


another, and about spiritual and human values and deep
connections to nature completely different subjects
from mainstream life in Italy. 1 drove to Damanhur.

Founder
Oberto Airaudi or 'Falco came from Balangero in the
province of Turin. From a young age, he had experiences
with the paranormal. Together with a group of friends, he
felt the urge to start a community. A group of 12 people
gave up their homes and jobs and began a 2-year search
all around the world for the right place. A location was
found 40 kms outside Turin at a nodal point of four
Synchronic Lines (lines of power throughout the planet,
described in the ancient science of geomancy). This is
where Damanhur was later founded. The landowner
welcomed this group with the words: "What has taken
you so long? 1 have been waiting quite some time for you.
Many years ago this landowner had dreamt that young
people, with the wish to change the world, would come to
buy his land. Thats when Damanhur began.

Functions of Communities

Today Damanhur has around 1,000 inhabitants,


including children. We live across 26 communities, also
called nucleos, of 15 to 25 people each.. Each nucleo has a
territory, a piece of land, and a specific function for
Damanhur, For instance, our nucleo, Dendera, connects to
GEN andthe other communities in the world. The
neighbouring nucleo is involved in experimentation with
water, energy and sustainability. One nucleo focuses on
agricultural self-sufficiency, another takes care of the
Temple, yet another of guests and hospitality, etc. Every
community conducts research within a specific field, and
shares the results of its research with all the others. In
nearly all our communities, elders, adults and children
live together. Every nucleo has a garden, an alternative
energy source, greenhouses and animals,
The nucleos build the human base or fundament
within Damanhur, Here we know each other intimately,
we eat together, we live together and it is here that most
conflicts arise. Conflicts rarely happen about major topics
in Damanhur, It seems like a paradox, but if s easier if
they occur in the areas of washing up or doing laundry.
We do not fear conflicts: we understand that the
experience of reality differs amongst individuals
depending on personality and cultural background. That
' s why,
in a conflict, we do not look at who is right or
wrong, but rather for solutions that could work for all
involved parties.

For the management of Damanhur all the

Damanhurians elect two people every six months who are


called king and queen guides. They are not like royalty;
these titles came about during a playful period in
Damanhurian history and have remained since then. We
like to be playful!

Four Pillars
Damanhur rests on four pillars that inspire and regulate
the different levels of our life. Each pillar has different
solutions and strategies to ultimately serve the same goal,
Each is equally respected:

* School ofMeditationis the first pillar and has spiritual

evolution as its clear goal. Meditation has a unique


position in the community of Damanhur,
* SocialLifeincludes the entire management of co-living,
and of everyday life,
* The third pillar, Game ofLife, represents the power of
transformation. Transformation is part of our
philosophy: fear of change prevents people living a full
and happy life. If we wait until something really doesnt
work any more, we waste too much energy. This is why
we change things before problems arise. Everyone is
invited to offer solutions and propose changes. The
Game of Life uses creative and unusual strategies to
encourage people to get out of their usual habits. It can
lead to great action. For example, a few years ago, we

created the Battle of the Arts, and made many collective


works of art that transformed Damanhur
* The fourth pillar, Tecnarcato, is a system used for
transformational work on a personal level. For example,
if 1 am an aggressive or shy person,Ican find support
and strategies that may assist. Tecnarcato uses many
methods, e,g, 1 choose another person whom 1 trust, and
this person works with me to set up a programme of
self-transformative steps that help me to change my
habits and limitations. We all wish to develop and
express our highest potential,

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The underground *Temple ofHumankind1is a masterpiece ofart and


was kept secretfor manyyears. Today itis an attractionpointfor
visitorsfrom aroundthe world,

Art and the Spiritual Vision of Damanhur


In Damanhur we believe that human beings have a divine

origin. That each of us carries a divine spark that can be


reawakened,. This is the goal of Damanhur, We can
accelerate the process of our evolution if we work
collectively. Art is seen as an essential instrument for
expressing our divine creative potential. We are often
taught as children to say and to think: T cannot do this!
Yet everyone is capable of using creative energy to make
something unique. This is the primary power of the arts:
to bring forth the uniqueness within us. Art is a bridge, a
language. We usually think that languages exist as words,
Yet art can transmit information and emotions in a much
more complete and tangible way through other senses and
channels. Collective art creates a strong sense of unity
while expressing individual diversity. Just like in
indigenous cultures, for us, art is a language that creates a
common identity,

Temple of Humankind
Like many groups, the founders of Damanhur wished to
have a sacred place. The idea of an underground temple,
an expression of divine creativity, had fascinated Falco
since childhood, and one night, the community began
digging with shovels and spades. They dug in secrecy for
16 years, reaching SO meters down into the mountain,
without building permission. We called the space the
Temple for Humankind, and meant to unveil it to the
public after completion. But it happened otherwise,
A former member of Damanhur started to blackmail

us, asking for money in order to keep the secret of the

Temple. We denied his request and he went public. Then,


40 policemen came to Damanhur and said: "If you do not
show us the temple, we will blow up the entire
mountain/' The magistrate was expecting to find drugs
and weapons. After we took him on a tour through the
Temple, adorned with beauty and art, his eyes were filled
with tears. He declared that he would take the Temple
under his personal care. But still, local officials planned to
fill the Temple with sand. In order to protect what we had
created, we went public and collected 100,000 signatures
and worked on a policy proposal to legalise underground
buildings. A year later, in Rome, the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage declared the Temple as a Work of Art.
This was an unbelievable joy for us. In Damanhur we
know: any circumstance that appears to be catastrophic
can be transformed for the better. What 1 love about
Damanhur is that feeling that 'Nothing is impossible/ If
you have a dream, you can realise it. And you can always
count on the help of others, on their solidarity and
support,

Strengths and Weaknesses


The complexity of Damanhur is our strength, but it can
also become our weakness. Our philosophy expresses
itself through doing, in action. We want to bring our
creativity into the world fully. We lead rich and busy
lives, including the practical concern of making a living.

The majority of Damanhurians work in Damanhurian


companies and organisations, whilst others work outside
the community,I, Macaco, am a singing teacher in Turin,
not just to earn money but becauseIlove singing,
Additionally, 1 work as a representative for Damanhur in
GEN, Beyond this we also have many other
responsibilities, like service in our nucleos, work on the
land, taking care of children, etc. 1 wish we had more time
for doing everything. We have not found a way to simplify
our lives and also take care of the many responsibilities,

Falcos Death
We are a community with a founder who had a very clear
vision. In such communities there lies a risk that after the

founder's death everything collapses. In Damanhur this


was not the case. In winter 20 12, Falco was diagnosed
with cancer. He decided to use natural therapies and not
to undergo chemotherapy. He used every moment of his
remaining time, three more months of life, to prepare for
his departure, conversing with Damanhurians, leaving
things so they could continue serenely without him. In
those months, he was more present than ever, and he was
teaching and speaking in public until his final days,
When Falco died, all of Damanhur felt the loss deeply,
We became aware of how much responsibility we each
carry. We came together more fully as a community. Even
now, we sometimes read what Falco wrote shortly before
his passing, messages with the intention of keeping our

motivation high and also reminding us of the love he felt.


In these years, Damanhur has been newly re-organised,
and each one of us gives our very best to realise our shared
dreams. We are in the process of transforming Damanhur
more deeply than ever before, as a living piece of art!
www.damanhur,org

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Damanhur.

Keywords for Solution Library:


Game of Life ensuring that the structures of a

community remain alive and creative


Feedback and Personal Growth utilising the feedback of
others to refine one ' s personality
Community Currency strengthening localisation of
wealth
solution,eco village org
,

lInDamanhur, a citizen'sfirst name is that ofan animal, andtheirlast name


is that ofaplant

Reclaiming Freedom,
Empowerment and Sustainability
Lakabe / Spain
The community of Lakabe started as a social activist
group, after the long Spanish dictatorship under Franco,
with the vision of creating a life without violence in an
abandoned village in Navarra, After 35 years, having
passed through many phases and crises, it is an ecovillage
with 53 members demonstrating a whole variety of
sustainable solutions, Mauge Canada has been there at
different stages of her life,

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In 1979, at the age of 19, 1 was sharing a house with
friends in Bilbao, Sharing and connecting has always been

a base of my life,Inever thought that for me there could


be a life without community, 1 was also an activist against
military service part of the first pacifist group in the
country. We succeeded, the law was changed, and people
all over Spain were no longer obliged to do military
service. After this success, we decided to take another step
and try to live a life without violence. With this as our

motivation, our group rented a house in the countryside,


We had goats. And one day, searching for our lost
goats, we found an abandoned village in the forest
Lakabe, It was abandoned because there was no road
leading there. We fell in love with it. In meetings with
groups of activists from all over Spain Andalucia,
Cataluha, Madrid we decided to occupy this village. We
invited anyone who wanted to live an experimental life of
nonviolence to join us on 2 1st March 1980, A lot of people
came. In that year 1 gave birth to my two daughters, so 1
joined a year later,
During the first 2 years, people were coming and going,
No one had money, so we built with what we found. We
carried cement by hand, walking for hours through the
woods. It was heavy, but we were full of hope. We had a
lot of help from the many people that came. Once we had
horses and donkeys, we could access the village much
more easily. We had a lot of fun with theatre and music,
and looking at the photos of that time, you would think
that there were only parties. The sensation of freedom was
amazing. It was like, 'Wow! Everything we had dreamt
about was possible. We were very young, and we were
coming from the experience of a dictatorship and its
repressive atmosphere that had ended only a few years
before. We were in a radical empowerment process.

Difficulties
Still, when dreams become reality, not everything is easy.

Sometimes there were roses, other times, thorns. Having


to manage the growing community was tough. We had
many idealistic ideas, but once we entered the reality of
governance and decision-making, it was very difficult.
Endless assemblies and meetings were held. Anyone who
showed up at the community could say whatever they
wanted, and the ones who spoke most had a lot of power.
During one assembly in 1981, when 1 was 21 years old
and had two babies, a part of the group said they didnt
really want children or dogs. It was painful for me to see
the group so out of touch with reality. There were conflicts
between those who wanted to live in austerity, and others
who wanted a good quality of life. The battle between
those who were against machines and wanted to use axes
for woodcutting, and those who wanted to use chainsaws
cost us months of time. Then some people said 'we will
use only candles, and others said 'no, we are allowed
torches with batteries. Lastly, there were those who were
against everything, on principle. Now we can laugh about
it, but back then it was really hard, 1 became more and
more concerned,

The shift came when our connection to nature


deepened. We were all coming from city life, but after a
while, we began to reconnect to nature a beautiful
discovery. We understood that living in a rural setting
required care for our environment. We began to develop
our ecological awareness and started putting it into

action. We decided to build a wind turbine. The steel base


of it was 10 m long, 35 people carried this huge object
through the forest and up the tracks to Lakabe. When we
had finally done it, we felt we had just achieved the
impossible,

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pioneersfoundit andbuilt new homesfromitsruins,

Change
In the first ten years we rebuilt the old village completely
and learned to create community. What we explored and

experienced during these ten years became the basis for


all further development. All the agreements we reached in
those first ten years still stand today, after 3 5 years,
Life in Lakabe is very intense as the community works
as a collective: our work, our money, our decisions
everything is shared. Crises in our history always came up
when part of the group wanted to put more power and
energy into personal issues and interests. Our biggest
crisis has gone down in our history as The Crisis of '91.
People left; from more than 50 inhabitants we shrank to
only 20, The amount of energy we had put in had
exhausted us. More and more people needed to prioritise
their personal lives and focus on their own motivation. It
was a difficult moment for everybody both for the
people who left and the people who stayed in the
community, 1 was among those who left. It was necessary
for me to confront myself with what 1 wanted in life,I
began training and became a therapist, but also went
through therapy myself, trying to understand what
happens when you live in a community, 1 was also taking
more responsibility for my two children who were
growing up and needed other things. Later 1 came back,
but at this time 1 left,
Throughout those years, 1 never lost contact with
Lakabe, Our agreements made it possible for the
community to survive. Luckily we had written them
down. A lot of clarity arose from them, and in the end the

crisis turned out to be very positive; out of it grew more


clarity about our identity,
During the 90s, those at Lakabe started exploring the
inner side of community. We also started taking more
care of our children and their growing needs,
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sharingallaspects oflife.

The Dam
At this point another incident happened: a Spanish
company planned to build a reservoir dam for electricity
production, and all the villages around were threatened
with flooding, Lakabe was heavily involved in the protests
against this project. Through this, we opened up to our

neighbours and other movements. With a lot of energy


from the community, using non-violent action, we tried to
stop this project. Many activists ended up in jail. Still, we
didnt succeed.
Lakabe is so high it was not flooded. But it was very,
very painful to witness the destruction of the villages in
the valley. Even now, 15 years after, 1 feel pain about this
atrocity. It got stuck in the souls of the people concerned,
It was one of the saddest moments of my life when the
bulldozers came. The police allowed me to goto a village to
see what was happening, 1 remember an old house of
hundreds of years with flowers on the terrace and two old
people coming out and bulldozers destroying this it
is a horrible memory, to this day, 1 wont walk there,
One of the side effects of the dam was that a new road
was built to Lakabe, We never wanted it. For us it
destroyed the silence of the mountains. But some of our
visitors were happy,
During the resistance, we had reached out to everyone
in the region. In the beginning we were seen as hippies,
but now we were respected by the surrounding villages
because of our leading role in the resistance. The region
sees us as a group that has something to offer. Members
from Lakabe have been elected to the local council of our
valley, A member from Lakabe, Mabel Canada, has been
elected as head of waste management in the wider region,
She is bringing all her knowledge on how to reuse and

recycle garbage. Her presence has a huge impact, and her


example is changing the minds of people in similar
positions. They are making a garbage revolution now!

Lakabe Today
In the history of Lakabe it was very important to get
involved in R1E (Iberican Network) and in GEN, This
helped us to understand that we are part of something
bigger. Things become clearer when you see your position
within a movement. It is like a field of resonance,

Today, we have three generations living in Lakabe, We


are 100% self-sufficient in energy. In terms of food, we
have S0% regional food sovereignty. People come and do
trainings and workshops here to learn about this kind of
life. We have our own school. Our children show what
Lakabe is about. They have a strong sense of social
behaviour and are very committed to understanding what
is taking place on the planet,
We have worked a lot on governance and decision
making and offer workshops throughout Spain to help
people set up proper governance in their projects and
communities. We advise them to set up various working
groups with decision-making power, so that fewer
decisions need to pass through a general assembly, and to
complete every decision-making process with a proper
agreement document. It is important for the process to be
inclusive, clear, transparent, and to arrive at a happy
ending,

We also developed a mature emotional sharing process.

When we meet, we begin by sharing, even if it is not easy.


And should a situation require deeper attention, we form a
support group. We have a rich toolbox of very diverse
methodologies and approaches, depending on what is
needed,

New communities and other projects are now growing


out of Lakabe. One year ago, 1 myself was involved in

developing a new community, Arterra Bizimodu, half an


hour from Lakabe. We received help from the community
of Lakabe, and now Arterra is flowering and even hosting
an office of GEN-Europe. Meanwhile, based on their own
experience, some of the youth of Lakabe are rebuilding
another abandoned village.
The most important thing for me about Lakabe is to
show that 'Yes, we cant Yes, we can create new lifestyles,
instead of blindly following the mainstream. Yes, we
realise our dreams. Yes, we can live in community!
Keywords for Solution Library:
Recycling Oil reducing waste
Good Governance - implementing successful decision
making processes
solution,eco village.org

BuildingBridges Between Cities


and Villages
Giineskoy / Turkey
In fast developing Turkish society, the ecovillage project
of Giineskoy, situated 65 km from Ankara, aims to
overcome the cultural and economic gap between village
and city. The project is offering small farmers an

opportunity to sell products directly in city markets. This


enables them to show-case sustainable solutions in
organic cultivation while also empowering women. The
win-win situation helps to conserve nature and village
life, Ali and lnci Gokmen, Professors of Chemistry from
Ankara, have for many years spoken out for nature and
community,

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My connection to nature started when 1 was three years
old. My family had a vineyard on the edge of Ankara, At
that time, the gardens were full of fruit trees and when
blossoming, the whole region turned white. My
grandmother used to wake me up before prayers to go out
and pick fruits and grapes. Today, the same area is
covered with apartment buildings and the trees have been
cut down. After university 1 went travelling, and whilst
visiting the mountains 1 once again found my connection

to nature. WhatIlove most in my life is that, in Inci, 1

have a partner who enjoys the same things as myself. Our


partnership is the smallest community, from this space it
can grow,

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There were four girls and one boy in my family. However,
for dinner there were always ten to fifteen people around
our table. All friends were welcome, creating a
community in our home, 1 have enjoyed being with people
and sharing ever since. Today, Ali and 1 teach chemistry at
the University of Ankara. However, 1 place most value on
knowledge that is not found in books. Experience, passed
on amongst friends or shared from one generation to
another, creates community. Even in the worst situations,
there is always a solution to be found, 1 believe many
problems grow from the disconnection we have from
community and nature,

Development Destroys Villages and Nature


Turkey has been hit by a global trend; 'development and
modernisation. Our national GDP has grown immensely
in the last years. Meanwhile, Turkish culture with its
village life and urban communities culture, with city
parks and fresh food, is disappearing rapidly. All the highrise buildings in Ankara's centre have been built in the
past five to ten years. The car industry is booming,
Millions of trees are being cut down. It seems we dont
think about the ecological consequences. Water, soil,
trees, air have no monetary value. Thousands of dams are
being built everywhere in the country. Rivers are being

sold to investors. In the past, farmers could use water


freely for irrigation, now water must be paid for
'Development, as implemented in Turkey, is destroying
village life. Many farmers were left with only one choice;
to join the workforce of the mining industry. In 20 14 a
new law was passed that declared villages are no longer to
be villages, instead making them into districts of nearby
cities,

The plan to build a shopping mall in Gezi Park in


Istanbul in 2013 was the straw that broke the camel's
back, A handful of young people camped there to protect
the trees, and then the protests exploded. Millions of
people all around Turkey took to the streets for many
weeks. The response of officials was very violent. Through
the use of tear gas and rubber bullets several people died
and hundreds were wounded,
However, we are still hopeful. We believe that we can
create a world where all people have jobs, not by cutting
down trees but by planting trees. Words alone do not
convince people. We need local examples and good
working models as centres of inspiration. By focusing on
marrying our love for our culture with our love for the
future, the current system will become obsolete,

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The days of the ecovillage are limited: soon a high-speedtrain willbe


built here, destroying the valley.

Guneskoy, the SunviUage


The founder of the Turkish state, Ataturk, said, "The
villagers are the actual owners of this country," However,
over the last fifty years, being a villager is considered
something lowly. This has to change. The farmers
produce the food and take care of nature. If they abandon
this, the cities will be hungry. We wanted to create a
project that helps people to stay in the villages, and that
reconnects urban and rural inhabitants through direct

economic links. Building bridges between cities and

villages changes the awareness of all. We found land


which was 65 km from Ankara, near a traditional village,
Hisarkoy, We founded a cooperative, calling it GtineskoySunvillage, The land was owned by the state, but villagers
were using it for grazing animals. We had several
meetings with the villagers to gain their consent. Life in
Turkish villages is very traditional. Although Guneskoy is
only one hour from Ankara, the villagers regarded us as
foreigners,
It took us two years to prepare this wild piece of land,
University students and people with their children came
to help. After some time, we found that the well we had
been using had been demolished, and it seemed clear that
the local villagers had done this. We understood that they
were acting from a sense of scarcity not wanting us
as newcomers to use their water. Water is a critical
issue in Turkey and is shared carefully by the inhabitants
of any one place. Any newcomer claiming water could
mean that the villagers have less of this precious good. So,
we did not argue, and drilled a new well on one of our
neighbours properties, thus finding a good solution to the
problem.

Agricultural Solidarity
W e tried to convince local farmers to adopt organic

farming. We ran information meetings with villagers in


the coffeehouse, arguing against the use of chemicals,

They listened politely but didnt try it themselves. In


2005, when we started our own organic agriculture on the
land, we produced a lot of broccoli. We tried to take it to
the local market to sell But the price was so low it wasnt
worth it. We then decided to give the broccoli away as
gifts, having such abundance. However, this wasnt a
good role-model for local farmers, given that agriculture is
their income.
In 2006, we started a Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA) scheme in Ankara, In the first year more
than ninety people joined. We collected money to employ
a farmer from the village and introduced him to new
techniques; raised beds and drip irrigation. The villagers
were still using the traditional irrigation method of
flooding the fields, which uses a lot of water. We
distributed vegetables with a van throughout Ankara,
Interest was high and we were happy. The economic
success convinced villagers to try organic farming tool
Their minds started to change. Today, many families
bring their produce to the organic market in Ankara, The
people in the city buy at a fair price. Both sides are happy.

Women's Situation
We asked two women from the neighbouring village to
work on our land; Fatma, aged fifty, and Seda, aged thirtyfive, They were the first women from the village to ever

work for money. The men in the village criticised it, but
the women didnt listen to them. Traditional village life

places a heavy burden on women: work in the fields,


raising children, preparing and conserving food whilst
looking after animals. Many men sit in a cafe throughout
the day. That is why many young women no longer want
to marry village boys,
Seda is a widow, and Fatmas decision is supported by
her husband. Earning money is a revolution for them.
They are being acknowledged for what theyve been doing
for generations. For them freedom has started with being
paid for work, N ow, they go together to the market and
sell directly, which is a new life for them not just
because of the money but because of the contact with city
people,
Fatma: "The women in town sometimes tell me 1
should look after myself more; 1 look older than 1
am. 1 tell them: What do you want? 1 really know
how to use myself.Iam not like a dress only made
for the cupboard,"
Seda: "We feed the city people, and they should
know our value. They should visit our places to
appreciate what we do for them."
They know how important it is to build trust with clients,
Fatma: "We never cheat in the organic market; the
clients will know it and never buy again.
W henever we visit them we never leave without being
invited to try their homemade bread, cheese and fresh

herbs, and receiving buckets full of fresh food and seeds to


take home.

Learning and Experimenting


On the site, we constructed our first building out of mud
bricks. Our neighbours taught us how to build in this
local traditional way, using special soil. Next, we built a
straw bale house. It was a huge learning experience for all
of us, working with fifty to sixty volunteers at weekends.
We thought it would be built in a month, but in the end it

took six months, as we kept finding problems and


discovering new solutions. In co-operation with the
Department of Agriculture, we created a big greenhouse,
using solar energy and extending the growing season by
growing plants earlier in spring and later in the autumn.
People are now visiting us, learning from us and
initiating ecovillage projects in other locations. Organic
farming in Turkey is spreading at last. Today eight
organic markets have been established in Istanbul, and
two in Ankara. We have offered three Ecovillage Design
Education (EDE) courses at the university and several of
the participants started working in sustainability related
areas. One group started a 'Sustainable Living Film
Festival. For seven years they have had a three-day
festival with films, discussions and other activities. This
year, they went on to launch a Sustainable Living TV
channel,

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The core of Guneskoy:hospitality,generosity andtrustbuilding


among villagers andcitypeople,

TheEnd of Guneskoy
Sadly, very soon, Guneskoy, our Sunvillage, will be
destroyed, A high-speed train connecting Ankara with the
north-east will cut through our land. According to the
legal situation, there is nothing we can do. We will receive
some money as compensation, but nothing can
compensate for the loss all the work, the love and the
trust that grew with the villagers. The same will happen
to our neighbours, an elderly couple: they will lose
everything they worked for throughout their entire lives,
We refuse to lose hope. Today, people from the

sustainability movement are meeting everywhere in the


country, Ankara is full of beautiful, energetic meetings,
Istanbul as well. From these grow iocal parliaments
which come together and discuss collective action. Lots of
things are happening in Turkey and in many places. We
continue to create positive examples,
Inci runs a course on Sustainable Living and Green
Chemistry at the university. Some of our neighbours and
students occupied a piece of land in two different
locations belonging to the local government, starting city
farms in front of the municipality. The municipality even
helped to build a fence and supplied water!
We raised the question: Is it possible to feed Ankara
from the region? One of the Mayors from the opposition
party in Ankara understands that big cities should have a
larger belt of villages around them for food security. The
Mayor has started a village-urban initiative, resulting in a
big market in downtown Ankara, with villagers bringing
farm life to Ankara: straw bales in the streets, seed
exchange markets and information about organic
agriculture,
Whats our next project? We are considering a new
centre for local seed management. Our vision is to found a
research institute in a village, which is used and run by
villagers, not by companies. We trust that this project will
bring hope and energy for the young, the women and all of
us!

Keyword for Solution Library:


CSA Farming 1 settingup direct relationships between
growers and consumers of agricultural products
solution.ecovillage.org

Building a Healing Biotope


Tamera / Portugal
Healing Biotope 1 at Tamera (with 150 coworkers)
consists of a solar village, water retention landscape, an
educational peace centre, a love school, a political ashram
and much more. Its aim is to develop a holistic model of a
peace culture. Founded in 1995 by Dieter Duhm and
Sabine Lichtenfels, it arose from a prior community that
was established in 1978 in Germany, Vera Kleinhammes,
daughter of the founding couple, is now part of the
management team.

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Vera Kleinhammes
Tamera was sung into existence by the compassionate
hearts of the founders. After their involvement in the
protests against the war in Vietnam, and in the peace

movement in general, they came to the conclusion that

war is an external expression of humanitys internal


landscape of pain. The construction of a sustainable peace

culture not only requires ecologically and technologically


sound structures, but also an inner process of healing. The
development of the community was a strategic response
to violence. The founders wanted to create a space for
coexistence that generates trust amongst humans and all
living beings,

Growing up in Community
As a child 1 lived in a wholesome world. Grownups around

me responded to me and all my questions with respect. As


children, we were raised at the centre of community life;
we could watch and help out with all the work; relate to all
the people; we were friends with the trees in the forest and
the garden. Besides my parents, 1 could also choose other
adults as mentors and guardians. Every night, the
community gathered in the library, and as children we
would fall asleep blissfully while the adults were involved

in in-depth conversations about the state of the world.


1 was only four when 1 became consciously aware of
the fact that there are wars in our world. 1 could not
understand why, and a part of me still does not
understand, 1 was thrown out of the paradise of childhood
into the mad world of adults, 1 desperately started
searching for ans wers and told my mother that we had to
speak to all those involved in wars and then they would

stop. Soon i realised that there were too many people, and
instead 1 suggested that we should talk to God as he can
talk to all of them at the same time. Today,Ihave similar
discussions with my son, A childs logic can be an
important source of inspiration for solutions. The world is
influenced by unseen forces for example, 1 believe that
we co-create morphogenetic fields which have great

potential for the global healing of humanity. The political


theory that my father drafted builds on this, and
demonstrates why small communities of people can,
indeed, initiate great change,
At the age of 14, 1 made the conscious choice to move to
Tamera, My parents already lived there whilst 1 went to
school in Germany and lived in the ZEGG community. Up
until this point 1 had lived in community because 1 was
born into it. Now, 1 started to become interested in what
my parents and so many other people were trying to
realise. It dawned on me that this was my path, tool

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Political Compassion andthe Global Campus


"There can be no island of happiness in a world of
suffering, says the German singer, Konstantin Wecker,
This is why we search, not only for personal solutions, but
also for solutions that support those in areas of crisis. We
gather knowledge from experts across the globe and
integrate their insights into a holistic model of a peace
culture,

Our water retention landscape and permaculture

practices offer solutions for landscape healing and


sustainable food production in regions that are threatened
by desertification. The Test Field of the Solar Village is off
the grid, with a Schefflcr mirror, biogas plant and solar
collectors for everyday living. The Escola de Esperanza
School of Hope is an international school, in the process
of legalisation, and will also be available for local children,
A stone circle and pilgrimage paths form a landscape
shrine to communicate with the earth. With the Global
Campus and the Terra Nova School, Tamera is connecting
to a worldwide network of peace projects. Our working
partnership and membership in the Global Ecovillage
Network gives us strength and inspiration in recognising
and supporting one another on the same quest,
Tamera has proven to be a vitalising factor for its
region in southern Portugal, Rural exodus and
desertification have taken their toll here, and our
experience can be very useful for the revitalisation of
villages, and even entire regions, 1 love the vision of
relatively autonomous bioregions, where the youth can
find sensible education and jobs, and all the inhabitants
celebrate the abundance of their land, in the sense of
water quality, food quality, and a neighbourhood that is
alive,

Inner and Outer Community Building


The most important thing for us is building deep trust

within community. Our leading example is a healing


biotope; a system in which, through interplay with others,
every being finds its place and, through that, initiates selfhealing, The community is divided into subgroups; the
autonomy group, the political ashram, school group, guest
and education group and more. Within these groups, and
in the community as a whole, we come together several
times during the week to study and share deeply. We have
three basic ethical rules; truth, mutual support and
responsible participation.
It requires daily practice to live up to these ethics and
to strengthen and build up a true coexistence: a space in
which we sincerely reconnect with each other. Emotions
such as anger are not evil or destructive at their source. It
is only through suppression and judgement that these
emotions become dangerous. The ability to open up in a
circle of trust carries with it immense healing
possibilities. Where there is consciousness, war cannot
prevail. It is like water; if you dont allow it to flow, but
keep damming it up, it is inevitable that, at some point,
the dam will burst. It is not the water that is violent, but
rather the way it is being treated. Similarly, if the human
heart has been disowned for centuries, then it will become
deceitful and evil. Those who have the experience of being
loved for who they are without needing to wear masks,
discover a completely different side of themselves,

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Forum is a way to communicate in largegroup andcreate

transparency andtrust.

The Love School


Our Peace work also embraces the interpersonal crisis
area of partnership, love and sexuality. The reconciliation

between man and woman is an underlying historic need.


So much happiness in life depends on the perspective of
love. At the core most people feel unloved. Out of fear they
start to cling to the other, and like sand, their love ends up
running through their fingers. In the end, many couples
break up: the exact opposite of what was intended! For us,
free love means taking responsibility for love. We aim to
develop in such a way that we are loyal to our love and

those we love, even at those painful times when our own


wounds are touched. Once all people accept and love
themselves, they can stop pretending to be something
they are not, and men and women can trust each other
again.
In many countries there are women who are being
abused, or punished and ostracised for their sexual
activity. Deep peace work is required so that women can
express themselves fearlessly. Sexuality in old age is
another topic that requires healing and education. The
Love School of Tamera looks at these and many other
questions. Sexuality is free if it can create trust. Love can
find endurance if lovers can be safe enough to be truthful.
The Parent School forms part of the Love School, and
caters for people who would like to become parents. It
addresses practical questions around pregnancy, birth,
and raising children, and also teaches how to consciously
and knowledgeably accompany the process of conception,
pregnancy and birth. Our two midwives assist
homebirths throughout Portugal,

Management Structure
This is a topic that challenges us continuously. It requires
trust and maturity to build true democracy. 1 believe this
requires people with great leadership qualities: with
participatory skills, capacity for teamwork and a good
capacity for overview, A group leader is ready to receive
feedback from others and brings the courage to dare

something new so that the old patterns dont simply


repeat themselves. We work in-depth with questions like:
What is leadership without guru connotations? How does
one help true skills of responsibility and passion to
flourish amongst community members? (The tendency to
offload responsibility leads to an overload within the
management team.) How do we transition to new
generations of management without losing depth, while
simultaneously enabling the new generation to develop
their unique qualities and strengths?

Mistakes and Difficulties


One main difficulty we face, in my opinion, is to
participate as peace workers in a world where so much

needs to be done, and at the same time avoid turning into


workaholics. This is relevant both personally and for the
community. How can we manage everything that needs to
be done while still finding enough time to savour and
celebrate life? At first the founders had assumed that after
three years of social experimentation they would have set
up the foundations for a new way of living together. They
thought that after these years, they would be able to
completely dedicate themselves to external peace work.
However, there are some topics that keep resurfacing on
new levels and in different ways. Often it is hard to accept
that the madness of the world still holds so much power
over us, despite the experience of healing, trust and
solidarity,

A further challenge is our external development: a few

years ago, we were prohibited from continuing further

construction on our site. According to the nature


protection policy, our land has exhausted its construction
capacity. In reality, this means that many people have to
live in caravans: which is not our ideal picture of an
ecological communal life. We want to grow and show that
it is possible to establish villages in such a way that they
do not disturb nature, but rather support it. Already,
through our work, biodiversity, reforestation and soil
fertility has considerably increased. The authorities are
helping us take appropriate legal steps, which also involve
developing a master plan for our ecovillage for the next 15
years maybe an exemplary process for the ecovillage
movement.

The history of our project entails a very painful


difficulty that we, hopefully, have left behind us now:
namely, that the press or the church accused us of being a
sect, andDieter Duhm was labelled a guru. They assumed
the most absurd crimes that, in reality, had never
happened. This had a great impact on the development of
the project. ButI guess this belongs to the friction that any
new development may experience, and for us it was a
valuable lesson,
1 am proud of the variety, the deep humanity, and the
solidarity that our community has to offer.Ialso love the
complexity with which we work. Everything is happening

out of our care

for the world and our love for life,

www, tamera.org

Keywords for Solution Library;


Forum building trust and transparency in groups
Water Retention Landscape storing rainwater using
natural materials and the contours of the landscape to
counteract desertification
Parents School preparing the ground for happy
children
solution,eco village, org

Alternative in theMainstream
Ecovillage Sieben Linden / Germany

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community.

The ecovillage Siebenlinden is a community project with


around 140 inhabitants in Sachsen Anhalt, former

Eastern Germany. Since 1397, the community has been


realising a sustainable living style within the social,

cultural, economic and ecological dimensions. Dieter


Halbach, one of the founders, wrote this report,

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Dieter Halbach
The son of a single mother, 1 grew up at the beginning of
the 50s in West Berlin, in a high-rise building devoid of
nature. If the doorbell rang at all, it was to our great
surprise. My yearning for community grew out of this
isolation,

During the anti-nuclear protests, we founded the


Republik Freies Wendtland, a living camp for protesters,
From that moment on, 1 knew that 1 wanted to establish a
village that could not be evicted by the police,
For 10 years 1 attempted living in a beautiful, yet small
and isolated community in Italy, with all its shadow
sides. 1 went through the painful experience of separating
from my wife, and her leaving with our daughter. This
experience clarified my longing to create a bigger
community in which children can find a safe haven
beyond the behaviour of their parents, 1 am now happy
that my second daughter, despite another separation, is
growing up in a protected ecovillage, while my friendship
with her mother has healed overtime,
It took 7 years, from 1990 to 1997 to actually establish
the ecovillage. During this time, there were three points of
support. First, the already existing network of community
projects in the German speaking arena, and the experience
they brought. Secondly, the UN Conference in 1992 in Rio
that set goals for social and ecological sustainability,

Lastly, the social climate in former East Germany; after


the fall of the Berlin Wall in 19 89, socialism broke down,
bat not the longing for community,
In 1990, we organised a community festival with 1,000
people. Some people from the East who felt a longing for
real community met with existing communities from the
West, Our ecovillage initiative had its first public
appearance. The original dream was for a 100% selfsufficient ecovillage of 300 inhabitants. Overtime, we
softened our goals to include: self-sufficiency within the
region, not the community; global networking; and
human inner work and spirituality,
From the outset 1 was adamant that human topics
would need to take centre stage. Self-reflection and
transparent communication are elixirs for communities,
To survive, a group needs a trustworthy human centre,
We established a cooperative and searched for a piece
of land and an existing village that would take us in and
setup a building plan with us. In Europe such a plan was
unheard of[
By 1993 we were still searching. We settled into the
village Gross Chueden and started setting up the first
project centre with a school, a workshop, seminar rooms
and a small community. The development of this centre
was challenging and cost us a lot of energy. Children and
adults were overexerted. After 3 years, people were tired
and had lost their enthusiasm for the larger idea of an

ecovillage. In this time of uncertainty, a miracle took place


that enabled us to manifest our original dream the
German Foundation for the Environment, a government
institution, was running the TATorte (ActionHubs)
Competition, An official report showed that the 'blooming
landscapes promised by Chancellor Kohl to transform the
communist wastelands, had not only not started
flowering, but had never materialised. The TATorte
Competition was created precisely to help create
blooming, thriving regions,. For this they identified 5
projects annually that show best practices and solutions
in the dimensions of ecology, economy and culture,

Starting Afresh
In 1996 our initiative won this prize. Attached were a

movie, an exhibition and a book about us. With this


publicity, we were revived into action and hosted a onemonth long exhibition at the administrative district
office. We were present every day and invited mayors. We
were carriers of hope and no longer ready to quit. The
district administrator gave a (slightly forced) speech on
the importance of going for one's dreams,
We had passed through the eye of the needle and
started afresh. In 1997, we found a dilapidated farm in
Poppau adjacent to an existing village. The community of
Poppau requested planning approval for a second village
to be established next to theirs, 1 very much appreciated
and honoured the community for taking the risk and

accepting a foreign body of 300 people into their


neigbourhood, From the beginning we had interesting
relations between the existing villagers and the
ecovillagers; for both parties it was important that they
could live their lives without interference as two
interrelated but independent organisms living in good
accord
By going ahead with purchasing the dilapidated farm,
we took a risk. If planning approval was declined we
would not be able to build a village. Our building plan was
very different the usual trend was for bigger town
centres to be built in rural areas. We had to provide
evidence that we were a model project that would
regenerate ecosystems and attract people into the area,
Everything had to be considered: the complete
infrastructure, energy supply and water cycle. Luckily we
were well supported by the provincial government, as the
Environmental Minister Heidrun Heidecke was a good
friend of ours. However, we needed each of the
government authorities to give their approval,
During this vulnerable time, a local newspaper accused
us of being a sect. Such an unfounded accusation can
serve as a death sentence for any intentional community,
Through the Come Together Network (a community
network) we were collaborating with the community
'ZEGG, which had experienced a similar, equally
unfounded, accusation, A pastor declared that we were

abusing children. We all know how difficult it is to


contradict and especially, clear the air, after accusations
of this kind
Yet thanks to our contact with the faction leader of the
Green Party, Pastor Jochen Tschiche, we contacted the
church leadership and convinced them to publically
retract every accusation against us and ZEGG, 1 picked up
the representative from the Evangelic Church and drove
him to the village meeting, where he was supposed to
acquit us. In the car, he changed his terms and said we
had to exclude ZEGG from the Come Together Network, 1
asked him whether there was any evidence against ZEGG,
and he replied there wasnt any. So 1 responded that acting
on his request would not correspond to my Christian
values of loving my neighbour, and that 1 could not
possibly throw an innocent fellow brother or sister out of
the boat in order for the boat to reach the shore more
easily,
Despite my efforts, he repeated the accusations against
us at the meeting. We were in despair. Suddenly, a young
pregnant woman from Poppau stood up and asked him
directly: 'So, do you believe that these ecovillagers pose a
threat to children or not? He said, 'No1. And so we turned a
new page. We invited the village for coffee, cake and
volleyball for the following Sunday at 2pm,

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acknowledged was worth it

A Long-Standing Bond
On that day we prepared everything in excitement. 2 pm

arrived and we still waited. The ecovillage and Poppau


village are connected by a long straight road. Finally, we
saw around 100 people coming our way. They were
holding hands, grandparents, children, all villagers,
walking together. Remembering that moment gives me
goose bumps to this day,
We celebrated together and 1 asked them: What about
the accusations?" Their reply was: "Do you think we
believe everything that is printed in newspapers?" This
was a great turning point, A tie of mutual trust was
formed that survives today. If a conflict arises, we come
together to solve it. For instance, when the car tyres on
hunters' vehicles were slashed close to the ecovillage,
instead of calling the police, they first asked us whether
we might know who had done this. We responded by

saying that we would enquire after it, A meeting of


hunters and animal rights activists took place and solved
the issue. Every 1st of May we celebrate together in
Poppau whilst playing volleyball and enjoying cake for
me this is a peace celebration,
To realise the building plan we started a dialogue
process that reached as far as the state government. They
finally confirmed with us that we were a pilot project that
was implementing ecological and social sustainability. In
1998, we celebrated the opening, although we still did not
have the approval of the building plans. The mayor of
Poppau asked: "What are you celebrating? and 1 replied:
"We are celebrating the principle of hope!" During this
very celebration the news arrived from the planning
office: the building plan had been approved. That was a
celebration indeed! We had overcome many hurdles, and
accepted the presence of uncertainty. We succeeded
because we had support from the people from the village,
the authorities, the state government and the TATorte
competition,. It was a magical support that reached far
beyond what we as a community could have achieved
alone,

Today we are a bit closer to the mainstream. Our


ecovillage is recognised and used by the wider
community. Politicians from all parties come with
questions, from the conservative partys demographic
working group that wants to understand why we are the

only village that grows in the area, to the more left-wing


parties, who are interested in methods of peaceful
communication. That is the beauty of our ecovillage, the
diversity and complexity that we embrace, from the forest
kindergarten to care of the elderly, from decentralised
energy and sewage systems to innovative decision
making processes. On all levels, we are involved in topics
of current social interest. Since we established ourselves
the press has had only positive reports about us,
Inevitably there are shadow sides. The ecovillage is
located in a structurally weak region. There is no
flowering cultural centre around us, W e tend to stew in
our own soup too much. It takes a lot of strength to find
the right decisions, A professionalisation, in a positive
sense, is still in its initial stages. This is similar to other
communities . We all ask how to reach the next steps in
such a way that we are not overexerted and have more air
to breathe, more space for unfolding individuality, more
space for innovation and entrepreneurship,
For me as a visionary, our processes take too long. At
times there is too much personal sensitivity. This is one
reason why, after 25 years,Ihave decided to leave. But it
is not a dramatic ffI am leaving you. Establishing and
building the ecovillage made sense and still makes sense, 1
found many companions along the way, including people
from sectors and organisations where 1 would have least
expected to find support. For these people, it took courage

to speak out

for us. They took a risk. It is always


important that we change our glasses regularly to allow
recognition: there are companions on the path from all
sectors in wider society and their numbers are increasing
day by day,
www.siebenlinden,de

Keywords for Solution Library:


Strawbale Building 1 using strawbales as the perfect
combination of natural bricks and insulation
Wild Salad Business building social enterprise while
enriching ecosystems
Compost Toilets 1 reducing water pollution while
producing natural fertilizer for reforestation
solution.eco village\ org

AFRICA

TheMiracle in the Desert


Sekem / Egypt
Led by a vision to promote sustainable development of the
individual, society and the Earth, Dr, Ibrahim Abouleish
began to cultivate the hot, arid sandy ground of Egypt.
Here he started a community to explore new approaches
to economy, science, culture and societal life. He named
this initiative Sekem the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph
for 'vitality1. Today, 2000 people are involved in the
community structures of Sekem. Dr, Abouleish has
received many awards for his achievements, including
the 'Right Livelihood Award, and an honorary doctorate
from Graz University.

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Deep Vision
1 carry a vision deep within myself: in the midst of sand
and desert,I see myself standing at a well, drawing water,
Carefully 1 plant trees, herbs and flowers and wet their
roots with the precious drops. The cool well water attracts
humans and animals to refresh and quicken themselves,
Trees give shade, the land turns green, fragrant flowers
bloom, insects, birds and butterflies show their devotion
to God, the creator, as if they were citing the first Surah of
the Koran,
The beginning, 1977: the land, which stretched out in
the desert fallow and empty towards the horizon, was
gently hilly, 1 liked the fact that it was not as flat as the
delta. After a few more steps in the shimmering heat, a
vision appeared before my inner eye: 1 saw the wells,
plants, animals, compost heaps, houses and working
people here. We would have to expend a lot of energy to
cultivate such impassable, difficult surroundings and to
transform this wasteland into a garden! So many jobs
could be created in doing so, and so many people would
have the chance to educate themselves while creating
something healing for the landscape!
After buying the land in the desert north of Cairo, a
period of intense planning began. From the very
beginning, Sekem was to be a model for sustainable
development, where farming, making products and
services, business, education, cultural and social

development are part of an holistic approach. We have


also been working on the transformation of the desert into
fertile land; restoring and maintaining a healthy soil and
biodiversity in nature by applying biodynamic
agricultural methods.
Water is a key factor in the desert. Right from the
beginning, we dug five wells on the farm, with a depth of
100-110 metres. Even before the first water was pumped
up from the depths, 1 had been thinking a lot about its
distribution through an irrigation network. How should
we channel the water so that it could reach the plants and
animals? You need a clever plan to irrigate effectively,
Canals have to be built and pipes laid. Nowadays Sekem is
crisscrossed by a huge underground irrigation system
Organic Agriculture has become the basis for our
successful cultivation. Sekerrfs own farms and those of
our suppliers are cultivated according to the principles of
biodynamic farming. The continuous enhancement of soil
fertility has been achieved through compost prepared
from organic materials. To ensure the quality and purity
of the crops, healthy organic seeds and seedlings are
produced on-site at the Sekem main farm. Modern
grafting techniques result in increased productivity of
seedlings, high resilience against soil diseases, and better
adaptation to an extreme climate. Other recent
innovations include the breeding of predators for natural
pest control and the application of Effective

Microorganisms in wastewater purification. Modern


laboratories monitor the quality and purity of soil, the
compost and harvested produce,

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Sekems Expansion
Egypt has lost much of its knowledge of traditional

medicine since the pharmaceutical industry entered the


market, Sekem introduced herbal teas in the country and
started a huge awareness campaign 25 years ago. Today
Sekem is the market leader in herbal teas and in the
production of phytopharmaceuticals. Our development of
biodynamic cultivation methods for cotton in 1992 was

also revolutionary for Egypt, Convincing field trials led to


a change in government policy which ended the aerial
spraying of 3 5,000 tons of pesticides per year
In recent years, new areas of desert land have been
acquired and transformed into fertile soils through
Sekems organic cultivation. In Egypt and worldwide, both
additional fertile land and its sustainable cultivation will
be crucial to ensuring future food security,
Approximately 850 farmers from all over Egypt are
now members of the Egyptian Biodynamic Association,
which we established. The Association advises and
instructs the farmers and works to promote biodynamic
agriculture in Egypt based on scientific methods. Once a
month, all farmers working together with Sekem meet. It
is very impressive when, at each meeting, around two
hundred tall, strong men with huge beards wearing long
galabeyas stand up and express, often with tears in their
eyes, how much they feel supported by Sekem. Their
simple words, which come straight from their hearts,
show that they see an ideal of economic life realised, based
on brotherliness rather than competition and egoism.
Today, Sekem runs a variety of successful companies,
producing organic foods, spices, tea, textiles from organic
cotton, and herbal medicines for local and international
markets, A fairly organised supply chain from farmers
to final consumers, based on trust, transparency, fair
pricing and contracts defines the 'Economy of Love1 that

Sekem stands for. An Economy of Love ensures that


everyone in the supply chain is getting a fair part of the
added value, enough to develop themselves, enough to
satisfy one's own needs and the needs of one's family and
ones community, while regenerating ones natural
environments. The Economy of Love is very similar to
'Fair Trade'.
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Web of Organs
The Sekem community is built on equality and respect for

the dignity of every individual. For all employees in


Sekems companies and institutions, from farmers to
managers, the working day starts by meeting in a circle: a
symbol for equality and unity of the shared vision,
The vibrant network of the Sekem community needs
functioning organs, as in every living organism: it needs
social institutions that secure rights and claim
responsibility, organisations which set rules to guarantee
equality and to support the main goal of developing the
dignity and full potential of every member of the
community,
In Sekem, economic growth and the promotion of
cultural impulses go hand in hand. Profits made from fair
economic trade are invested in cultural and social
institutions. Through continuous training and art
courses, employees have the possibility of improving their
skills and unfolding their inner potential. In 1989, the
Sekem School opened its doors to hundreds of children
from local communities. In the Sekem Kindergarten,
children can play creatively, Sekem Elementary School
promotes learning and practical skills, which are then
further extended into the Secondary School, or the
Vocational Training Centre, In 2012 Heliopolis University
was founded to support further professional development,
Sekems holistic development work includes
compassionate care of children and adults with special
needs, and their integration into a suitable work

environment. For children whose social circumstances led


them to drop-out of school, the Chamomile Childrens
Programme offers basic education followed by vocational
training. They work part-time on the farm, carrying out
light tasks such as harvesting chamomile blossoms
enabling them to support their families.
In cooperation with national and international partner
organisations, Heliopolis University conducts research in
the fields of art, medicine, pharmacy, organic agriculture,
economics, social sciences and technology.
Interdisciplinary research teams work to improve
agricultural cultivation methods, to develop new products
for the Sekem companies or to adapt: green technologies to
the local context
An ecologically sustainable community needs a
healthy environment and healthy members. The Sekem
Medical Centre provides medical care for approximately
40,000 people from the surrounding areas. Medical
specialists use modern techniques of diagnosis and
therapy and prescribe natural pharmaceuticals.

Helmy Abouleish
We were all so engulfed in work that the Egyptian

revolution of 2011 took us by surprise. Through false


accusations, Helmy Abouleish, my son, ended up in
investigative custody. He recalls the inner stillness that
spread in him after he heard. For 100 days, he lived
without a telephone or appointments. He found this

period to be a big chance for personal new beginnings,


In the end, he was acquitted and, since then, has
focused back on the tasks in Sekem, But these difficult
personal challenges, in a time of national crisis, have
spurred a great advancement, both personally and for
Sekem as a whole. In the three years since the revolution,
two thirds of all businesses in Egypt collapsed, Sekem
prevailed. That is the miracle of our times.
I see that in the meanwhile, my original vision of
sustainable development has spread to the national level.
Today the Egyptian government has implemented land
resettlement projects in current desert areas. Villages are
emerging so that people can found new communities. The
experience of the Sekem pedagogy is having an increasing
influence on the student curriculum and teacher
education within our society.
I always stand up and appeal for the formation of
authentic communities. We humans are not efficient
alone. This would be an illusion. Sekem arose out of
encounters of earthliness and soulfulness, and became
something new. We are proving that, by creating
sustainability in all dimensions, and by investing in the
education of our coworkers, we can build thriving
economies.
So 1 feel confident in saying: without Sekem there
would be something missing from this world.

www.sekem,com

Keywords for Solution Library;


Herbal Teas providing alternatives to pharmaceutical
medicines Grafting combining different plant species in
order to lessen the use of herbicides
solution.eco village\ org

African Intellectuals Back to their


Roots
Natoun / Togo
Tiyeda Abalah from Togo returned to the village of Baga
together with her husband Seda after completing her
literature studies in France, Today she stands amidst a
flowering womens initiative, an organic school for
agriculture and economy, several reforestation and water
projects and a village bank that allows the village to retain
its wealth. Since 2009 ecovillage Natoun has become an
urgently relevant example of dignified rural living amidst
the rural exodus that brings 17 million Africans across
the continent into urban slums each year.

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True African independence can only take hold once the

intellectuals of the continent re-connect with their roots.


It requires academics to leave their well-paid city jobs and
return to their home villages, where they can share their
knowledge and improve local circumstances. My husband
and 1 arrived into the dying arms of his home village Baga
at the outskirts of the desert. Every year the soil brought
forth less harvest. Men left the village and left behind
women with no voice. Today, this has fundamentally

changed Women have learnt to take their fate into their


own hands. Their voices now help the village to blossom.

Background Story
1 learnt in my childhood how important the sovereignty of
women is while witnessing my mothers competitive
struggle with the second wife, 1 did everything to win the
liking of my father ' s second wife hoping she would not
wish to poison me when my mother was away. One
strategy 1 evolved was that of storytelling. This assisted
me later in receiving education, and learning English in
Ghana, There 1 met Seda who became my husband, and
later 1 followed him to France, 1 studied black American
literature in Paris while he studiedInternational Law in
Toulouse,

We got married and had two children. He attained a


PhD but this did not increase his happiness. Once we

moved back to Togo, he was still unhappy he was


working in an office and yearned to touch the earth again,
The many years in France had awakened his
homesickness andhis desire to show his family and
neighbours that an honourable and wealthy way of living
is possible on rural land,

Baga
But Baga was not the village he remembered from his

childhood. Land which once brought forth rich harvests


now lay deserted and barren. Forests and rivers had

disappeared, homesteads fallen into ruins. It appeared


that the desert was swallowing the village and anybody
who wanted to achieve something in life had to move to
the city. Initially we were not welcomed in the village. Our
unusual decision to come home caused uneasy feelings:
people preferred to see us in the city, feeling proud of us
there. However, we stayed true to our path and acquired
an extremely poor piece of land. This was exactly what we
wanted, in order to show how to re-green the desert and
co-create abundance and fulfillment,
At first we were alone and worked hard to cultivate the
land. We ploughed the land with oxen, sowed grain,
planted gardens with fruit trees and setup trenches for
irrigation. We made use of cow and goats' dung and
mulched. We re-introduced organic farming methods into
an area where fertilisers and monoculture had been
forcefully introduced and had spread for decades,
It was hard and strenuous work, and the women in the
neighbourhood could not bear to watch the 'Doctor much
longer and soon joined in to help. With this a womens
initiative was established that is sustained until today.
African women on the land benefit most from any
improvements as poverty due to climate change hits them
first. Most men think that children are the affair of
women only. Often, they cannot handle poverty, hunger
and crying children and leave their families behind. This
leaves women alone with the task of feeding children and

themselves.
We have transferred knowledge to lighten their load.
We have also learned a lot from them. They teach us their
rituals, dances and songs that have been part of their
working day for a very longtime. These are the cultural
roots of this land. It was vital not to throw out local
wisdom and culture with modernisation, but rather allow
both influences to develop a sustaining symbiotic
relationship. These are our roots and if we cut them (like
colonisation did), then we lose our self-worth and turn
into puppets easily ruled by destructive powers,

Education
We opened a school and employed teachers in organic

farming, accounting and management. Women, men and


youth from the surrounding area have received their
training here. The curriculum was created in a
participatory way which involved the villagers. The
students learn 70% practical and 30% theory. In their
final year they receive an assignment to go back to their
families and negotiate for a piece of land they can manage
and produce from. If they succeed, they receive the task of
advising and assisting their neighbours. This ensures that
graduates stay on the land and assist in resuscitating
villages around them.
Initially the government of Togo was very sceptical of
us. However, it has now adopted our methods and is in the
process of implementing them nationally. Since 2009 we

have left most of the running of the school and the centre
to the next generation and started focusing our energies
on Ecovillage Natoun, The houses at Natoun are built
traditionally with local building materials such as adobe,
earth and grass. One building acts as a guesthouse for city
dwellers, students and visitors from the network. Two
more serve as a workshop and a preservation and storage
room for seeds and harvested products,

Group-strength
Water remains a key topic here in Togo and in the rest of
Africa, In Baga, the dry season lasts around seven months,

Without appropriate decentralised water management


these are wasted months in which nothing can grow,
There is enough rain during the rainy seasons that can be
retained and harvested, and we have already built the first
three retention ponds fruit trees around them grow
well,

The women that work with us also use their knowledge


at home, success then brings them self-esteem. In the
early days the village meetings consisted of speaking men
and listening women. Although they were not prohibited
from speaking, women never felt their voice worthy of
being heard outside their home. One day, the men were
talking about the desert and how there was nothing that
could be done to stop it spreading, similar to the great
Nothing from 'The NeverEnding Story that devours
everything,

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Learningandwording with the ecovillage initiativecreatedjoy and

self-confidencefor the womenfromBaga.

This is when it happened: a woman spoke up! She


explained that if bushes and trees grow on barren land,
they can regenerate topsoil with the shade their leaves
offer. This fertile earth can allow millet to grow again,
Stunned silence followed her words. Some men looked at
her with doubt, others with curiosity. After all, the
woman looked healthy and her children seemed well fed,
too. One of the men started to enquire who she was, to
which man she belonged and where she had heard these
melodies. Her husband became proud of her and started to
spend more time at home, in the field and garden,

Rumours started spreading of how women were learning

sensible things here. More women wanted to join the


project. And so we grew.
The women in Baga worked so successfully that they
could start selling produce. Then they came up against the
next hurdle for disadvantaged women; the politics around
pricing used by middlemen. When the grain was ripe and
the women were eager to sell it, prices dropped to rock
bottom. The dealers knew the women were desperate for
money. If the women agreed to such a deal and thereafter
showed interest in buying machinery, seeds or other
things, the prices for these would sky rocket. On their
own, they did not stand a chance. So, they united stand up
for their rights in the village council and everywhere else.
They started selling their produce directly in the market.
W hen the mayor tried to stop this, they blockaded his
office until he opened his heart.
One solution against dependence on market prices is
the Village Bank that we established. The system is
simple, yet effective; for a small administration fee, every
inhabitant can become a member and take their money to
the village bank and withdraw it at anytime. This enables
women to buy and sell when the prices are fair. They
support one another if one requires help. This has little to
do with micro credits as the women stay debt free. For
instance, they use their money when the soya beans are
cheap and produce soya cheese which they then sell on

the market The profit they deposit again. Or they buy


nuts and oils with which they produce organic soaps. Jam,
dried fruits the list of products that the women have on
offer in the surrounding markets is increasing,
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Organicgardeningbrings economicbenefit to the viliage while
helping toprevent desertification,

Eventually the village was released from the sharp and


tight claws of poverty. 1 believe that local change has a
global effect because success is contagious. The women
from Baga are wealthier and the land has become more
fertile. This new story travels by word of mouth and
others start copying us, 'just like the women in Natoun*,
There is no reason why this method cannot spread to the

entire country. An active village community with healthy


traditions and knowledge about sustainable management
can bring about a positive revolution! Humanity needs
such examples and we are trying to set them.
www. thedancingfcrest,com

Keywords for Solution Library:


Farmers Bank strengthening local economies
Agricultural School educating future generations in
organic farming
solution.eco village\ org

Genius in the Townships


OTEPIC / Kenya
Shabby looking huts, ragged children, narrow alley ways
flooded with sewage, and garbage; this is the reality of
Mitume, Kitale in the northwestern part of Kenya, Lack of
prospects and environmental destruction are part of the
colonial inheritance, Africa and its people are in a process
of reclaiming their traditions, their sense of self-worth
and community, and their rights to land,
Philip OdhiamboMunyasia, 3 1, was one of the kids
that grew up in the streets of Kitale, Today, he mobilises
youth and women to help themselves through organic
food production, reforestation, sustainable water and
renewable energy solutions. Conflict resolution for gang
and tribal rivalries form an important part of building a
viable future. The radiant sunflowers at the very centre of
the township reflect hope, Philip's vision comprises an
international permaculture training centre and ecovillage,
The first huts, built from recycled materials and clay on a
dedicated piece of land, have been realised,

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Philip Munyasia
My Background
1 am the youngest of eight brothers. As a child, 1

experienced what it means to collect firewood on an


empty stomach and what it feels like not to have clean
drinking water. The daily pressures of accumulating bare
necessities, of survival under challenging circumstances
led to tensions and conflicts amongst the different ethnic
groups. Violence, drug abuse and criminal activities
thrived.. Since 1 was a little boy, 1 have dreamt of changing

this situation,
The region of Kitale is blessed with two rainy seasons,
fertile soil and a mild climate. Yet this abundance does not
benefit the population. Most Kenyans have access to very
little or no land. The land had been in the care of the local
people for centuries but it was appropriated by the
government and sold to foreigners from countries such as
China, Saudi Arabia, India and Europe. We are well
acquainted with international maize and rose companies
producing for an international market, and it is due to
similarly intensive agriculture over the past decades that
the soil suffers from salination. The groundwater has
been polluted, rivers have dried out, the forests have been
cut down and the desert is spreading,
Displaced refugees from a variety of ethnic
backgrounds have arrived in Mitume, People no longer
believe that anything good can grow from this place. By
European standards, it is a slum. We have no electricity
and live with big families in small shacks. We have no
flushing toilets or running water and there is a strong
stench of plastic and charcoal, used by women for
cooking,
The children goto school without breakfast. When
they come home for lunch, and see smoke rising from
their home, they know there will be food. If not, they go
back to school on an empty stomach and concentration is
made impossible. The teachers beat those of them who

made mistakes.
When 1 was small, my mother borrowed money to
grow corn. To be sure not to make mistakes, she asked for
advice from an agricultural expert. He advised her to use a
specific chemical. It was a disaster. All of the plants died.
The garden was lost.I was only five years old, but 1 will
never forget my mothers crying.
Then a miracle happened. A Catholic priest made it
possible for me to go to high school and even college. 1
remembered my dream. 1 started teaching women and
smallholder farmers how to grow food organically. 1
received a bursary to go to the USA for six months to study
permaculture. To be able to apply for my visa and
passport, 1 needed money and so my mother sold her goats
and sheep. Once 1 was in the USA, 1 studied very hard and
only ate what the land offered. 1 therefore managed to
save up all my pocket money. Out of five Kenyans who
were offered this bursary, 1 was the only one to return
home. When 1 returned, my friends asked me for money,
thinking that now I was rich. It was very difficult to say
no to them, but 1 had other plans for the money.

Establishing Ground
1 bought a portion of land in the middle of Mitume as the

first demonstration garden and pilot project. Here we


showed the people how one can use the small available
pieces of land in slums to plant food. When people
witnessed the first raised beds we created, they thought

they were graves and called us insane. As time passed


people became curious at the abundant growth of food,
and were eager to join. The planting methods in
permaculture are similar to those of traditional Kenyan
food farming: planted in mixed cultures and
communities, the big plants support the small ones, and
the earth is always covered,
In 2008, 1 established OTEPIC a communityempowered self-help organisation. We offer regular
trainings to smallholder farmers and organise womens
groups on family planning, Aids and domestic violence,
Furthermore, we organise tree planting projects, seed
exchanges, cleanup campaigns and peace activities such
as football matches between the different ethnic tribes
and gangs. One youth group uses our space for theatre and
dance training. Creativity is important. If it isn't fun, it's
not worth it.
In the meantime, 1 was able to travel to Europe
occasionally, which amongst many other things also
allowed me to secure funds for our organisation. In 2012,
we were able to extend our project on a second
demonstration plot. It boasts a workshop in which
unemployed youth learn techniques such as building
solar cookers, rocket stoves or little biogas systems, as an
alternative to using firewood as cooking fuel,
Water is a central topic here in Kenya, The paths to find
water are becoming longer and the water is often

contaminated The government sells water, but not every


family can afford it. 1 received official blessing and
sufficient funds to build a 72m deep water well. The water
is pumped up by solar energy. Every neighbour can
simply come and get water. There is always excitement at
the water well: women are washing, children are
collecting water, and men are chatting. They become
aware what is going on at OTEPIC, for instance the new
abundance sprouting as our mushroom farming takes off,
not only providing a source of nourishment, but also of
income.

Community
Our teams meet early every morning and set out the work
plan. At lunch time we come together to eat vegetables out
of our garden, cooked with biogas or the solar cooker.
Street kids join us for meals. There is a computer for
everyone to use, a small library and an opportunity to
watch videos. The door is always open, but nothing has
ever been stolen. The community protects it, knowing

that this space belongs to all of us,

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Creatinghope andnewperspectivesfor childrenfrom slums,

Children are never sent away. They are our future. We


welcome them and never underestimate their potential,
Parents are often astounded at the passionate
concentration their children develop.
Women within Kenyan society are not encouraged to
speak their mind or show any leadership qualities. Yet
80% of smallholder farmers in Kenya are women and
often they are responsible for whole families. Thats why
we say: "When you reach out to a woman, you reach out to
an entire village, The first womens initiative calledMaili
Saba, (7 miles from the main town of Kitale), in which 1

taught, now has a community garden. Speaker Nancy


Oppelle says, "Nobody is hungry any more, not even at the
end of the dry season and the children are healthy. The
mixed cultures produce everything we need throughout
the year, unlike the previous monoculture of maize,
Instead of buying fertilisers we can now use our money to
buy school books for the children, Besides a diversity of
fruits and vegetables, they also plant sweet potatoes,
These are harvested, dried, ground, and bakedinto sweet
little breads in the community bakery. The children sell
them in town,
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The women ofMailiSaba makingsweetpotato bread,

In 20 13, we were able to buy 10 further hectares of land


through donor funds, bringing closer the realisation of our
vision of an Ecovillage andInternational School of
Permaculture, We conducted a participatory planning

workshop, supported by pcrmaculture teacher Mugove


Walter, who has been a member of the GEN-Africa council
since 2012, We concluded by building our first
community hut from earth bags,
The earth came from the newly dug-out pond outside
the hut, which now fills up in the rainy season. This pond
is the starting point of a water landscape retention area,
which will consist of many ponds and swales in the
future. It will serve to have enough water for irrigation,
fish farming and most importantly to raise the
underground water level. We are planning to build houses
and ponds in tandem,
Today, we consist of a core team of twelve people. Some
are youth from Kitale who have returned from the capital,
Nairobi. Our team is joined on a daily basis by ten to fifty
volunteers, often women, children and youth from the
neighbourhood. Every single one of them comes from
difficult circumstances, and knows poverty, hunger,
neglect, violence and abuse intimately. In this context of
social disruption, they have been in contact with alcohol,
drugs and crime. They also have immeasurable strength
and are willing to do anything once they see a perspective,
This is why it is important for OTEP1C to bring a vision of

solidarity and community,


The church also plays an important social role. In
Africa, spirituality is very important. The Europeans
brought us their religion. But we, as Africans, already had
access to God through our direct connection with nature,
This became prohibited and people either converted to
Christianity or became Muslims, In many African
countries, these two religions are at war today. At OTEPIC,
we say that a person's religion does not matter. What
matters is that together we recognise the sacredness of
simple celebrations such as going into nature together and
planting trees,
A true sign of leadership in Africa is engagement and
communication with the people. To stand and talk alone
or give orders to others is of little use here. Development
and aid workers will get nowhere if they cannot
acknowledge this truth. Leadership is the art of being
deeply connected to the community and listening to them
in order to find out what really needs to be done and then
to act together,
Sometimes people tell me thatI work miracles, 1 also
work with challenges and failure; ideas evaporated,
projects faded, plans had to be postponed. Yet 1 cannot be
held back, 1 must look at that what has succeeded and be
filled with gratitude, for only then will abundance spread,
www,otepic,org

Keywords for Solution Library:


Earthbag Houses building cheap and simple shelters
Bread from Sweet Potatoes creating local food
sovereignty
Portable Gardens growing food in urban environments
solution,eco village, org

Ubuntu IAm Because You Are


Greening Schools / Zimbabwe,Malawi,
Zambia
Mugove Walter Nyika, council member of GEN -Africa,
was bom in Zimbabwe, became a permaculture and

ecovillage teacher, moved to Malawi and then, recently, to


the Zambia. He speaks about his memories, about the
abundance of nature in his childhood, how it was
destroyed, and how the wounds of nature and of the mind
can heal. Through his NGOs, SCOPE and RESCOPE, he
works in Zimbabwe,Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
and Zambia, greening hundreds of schools. Starting with
the next generation, their teachers and parents, he sets the
foundations for transitioning whole communities to
ecovillages.

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Mugove Walter Nyika


The name my parents gave me is Mugove, which means
gWI grew up with my grandparents in a village ZOO km
south of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe. From an early
age 1 learned from my grandfather to plant trees, to collect
seedlings and put them into the earth. There were many
sacred sites where it was a taboo to cut down a tree. When
1 fell asleep during the day my grandmother laid me in the
shade of a tree, many of which bore fruit.
When people were clearing land for farming, they
always left the fruit trees standing, even if they were in
the middle of the gardens. When fencing their gardens,
they incorporated the existing trees into their fencing. The
land was always covered either with trees, grass, leaf litter
or with a large diversity of crops planted together,

Abundance
My grandmother was a small-scale organic farmer, like
most African women. On her few acres she grew many
different crops: millet, maize, sweet potatoes, pumpkins,
cucumber, cowpeas, ground nuts, round nuts and all kind
of vegetables, many of which grew as weeds, such as
Cleome, She knew how to plant crops together that would
support each other. 1 cannot remember that 1 or any of my
friends were ever hungry as children,
As young boys we were res ponsible for herding the

cows of the village. In the morning we walked them to the

pastures. We never carried anything to eat with us. The


landscape surprised us every day, from January to
December, with wild harvests such as fruits and nuts. In
the afternoon when the cattle rested, we hunted some
small animals or caught fish in the river and roasted them
to eat.

When we came home in the evening, we looked


forward to rest, because we had walked 30 km or more,
but we never looked forward to dinner, as we were already
full. Nature always provided us with our needs. At home,
and in the bush, we always drank clean spring water. The
streams flowed throughout the year and they had
sparkling clear water and large pools with plenty of fish
and other aquatic animals,

Barren life andBarren Land


1 went to school, became a teacher and moved to Harare.I

have lived and worked in various countries in Southern


Africa: Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia,
Now when 1 visit my village, 1 find that things have
changed, W hether 1 look to the right or to the left, 1 only
see large fields of corn, mono-crops of corn. But they are
frequently not in good shape, with many being yellow
from nitrogen deficiency and wilting as the soils, depleted
of organic matter, no longer hold water. The landscape is
bare as the trees have been cut down they were in the
way of modern agriculture. The large variety of plants and

animals have gone killed through habitat destruction


as people clear land for farming, and through the
widespread use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. In
Malawi, the state spends 20 percent of the national budget
on the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), which buys
agrochemicals for subsidised distribution to farmers.
In Zimbabwe, most of the agricultural development
resources have gone into maize production which is seen
as the key to food security, but this has created challenges
in terms of nutrition for both the soil and the people. The
rivers, streams and springs have died: where there was
water flowing in my childhood, where 1 caught fish 1
see only sand today. 1 can no longer show my children a
natural pool of water in the river. This is what
monoculture, agrochemicals and erosion have done to the
land andthe people,
As a Permaculture teacher 1 see 9 out of 10 children
come to school without breakfast. Most have what we call
a 0 - 0 - 1 diet: no breakfast, no lunch, only dinner. And
dinner is usually a plateful of refined corn meal and a
vegetable. There lies the hidden hunger: some may have
plenty to eat, but only white flour, corn, wheat or rice 7
days a week throughout the yean The situation is worse
during the dry season,

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fruitforest

What colonialism and globalisation have done to the land


is saddening. The focus on cash crops and large-scale
industrial agriculture has led to an impoverishment of
soils and a dependency on foreign markets. But what it did
to the people is even worse, Africans have always heard;
what you learnt from your ancestors is backward,
primitive. We have brought you "progress. What keeps
the average African going today in spite of all the

misery and poverty? It is the dream that one day he will


have an American lifestyle: a large home with big screen
TVs, fast cars, plenty to eat from the supermarket, etc,
Many Africans have taken to these values, they regard
only high tech and expensive things as progress and look

down on anybody who applies organic approaches


because this is what their ancestors did and it is seen as
primitive and poor. Progress has to be complicated and
expensive easy and natural solutions are regarded as
backward,

Some African girls buy dangerous bleaching chemicals

from their skin, in


order to look whiter. Today, a 'good African woman gets
up long before sunrise and starts sweeping the compound
around the house. As the light comes up all villages and
townships are covered in dust. The first hour in school the
children sweep the ground of the school yard. This habit
of sweeping, of creating 'tidiness and order, has become a
big problem. Together with erosion it destroys the topsoil,
and all the organic waste is piled up andburnt. It is the
organic waste that we miss as fertiliser in the gardens,
Today, in Africa, we burn our natural fertiliser and then
buy industrial fertilisers from Europe,
Above all, many African communities now believe that
they are poor. The development agencies have been
coming to them with the question: what are your
problems? This sticks a poverty label in the minds of the

to remove the black melanin pigment

people. They have been taught to count their many


problems and not to count their blessings. To me it is
obvious that Africa is the richest continent. We are sitting
on a goldmine. The fertility of the soil, the sunny climate,
the biodiversity which is still there, the wisdom and
traditions which still can be recalled, can provide us with
all our needs. But we have to acknowledge this and learn
to put it together in the right way,

Permaculture
In 1996, 1 visited the Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre
close to Harare and did my Permaculture design course
and this changed my life, Permaculture brings together
the elements that have been torn apart in modern life
living, teaching, growing food. Things are not seen as
separate, but mixed in mutually supportive ways. They
form cycles. For me, it was like coming home:
permaculture fits much better to our African way of life,
to the people and the land than so-called modem

industrialised agriculture,
1 left my job as a teacher, and today 1 help schools in
Zimbabwe, Malawi and other African countries to change
their bare and ornamental school yards into food forests,
In Zimbabwe, every school has to have a minimum of four
and a half acres of land. People are surprised how easy and
fast the barren soil can turn into an abundant and diverse
fruit forest that can feed the children. The first step is to
change the habit of sweeping and cleaning out the organic

matter We start keeping it on the land and even collecting

more organic waste to cover the ground In Africa, it rots


very fast and transforms into topsoil in which we can

plant the seeds. Some trees in our climate can grow more
than 1.5 m a year, so the children will notice the
difference in a short time. There is enough rainwater: S00
mm on average in most places. But we have to take care
that it does not run away without being used. We create
swales ditches along the 'keylines that give the
water time to filter into the ground. When the soils are
moist and the rainwater is harvested, the gardens have
enough water throughout the year,
The most difficult thing is toun-learn bad habits and
wrong thinking patterns. For example, the mindset of
tidiness: soil or organic matter is not dirt, but life. People
have to understand how rich they are, and then they can
see that it is not much work to create a garden.
There is hope for the future, Africa has the potential to
lead the world in reconnecting to the one ecosystem that
we share with all other life forms. There is still a sense of
community, the spirit of ubuntu, which means: T am
because you are. The connection to the land is still alive
on the continent. 1 have had the joy of working with many
school communities that are showing that a different
world is not only possible, but that it comes with an
improved quality of life.
Of the many educational experiences that 1 have had in

my life, 1 have no hesitation in saying that the


Permaculture Design Course (PDC) and the Ecovillage
Design Education (EDE) were the two experiences that
have hadthe most profound impact on my life. With these
wonderful tools, 1 am working with school communities

and ecovillage initiatives to co-create a better future for


everyone involved. In this work,Iam part of the team that
is connecting African communities to the Global
Ecovillage Network (GEN), 1 am hopeful that all is not lost
for my children and the generations to come,

Keywords for Solution Library:


Swales harvesting rainwater to replenish water tables
Turning school yards into fruit forests educating and
nourishing the next generation
solution.eco village, org

Responsible Tourism
Sandele Eco-Retreat / The Gambia
Sandele Eco-Retreat in Kartong is an example of
responsible tourism. The lodges are built with
compressed, stabilised earth blocks that use a minimum
of cement and are frequently stabilised with lime.
Electricity, hot water and water are provided using solar
and wind power. The Lodges and the Guest Rooms have
compost toilets and a constructed wetlands system that
minimises the use of, and purifies, the water flowing from
the toilets, showers, hand basins and rainwater. Its
founders, Geri Mitchell andMaurice Phillips from
England, are working hand in hand with the local
community to build the project as an integral part of the
village of Kartong, Kartong is in the process of officially
transitioning to become an ecovillage. Since 2014, regular
Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) courses have been held,
where the villagers are refining their community
development plans,

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Geri Mitchell
After careers in senior management in the social care
world in the UK, we began to dream of our next step being
something and somewhere different. Inspirations came
from many sources and we finally decided The Gambia
was the place where we could realise our vision of creating
a different kind of tourism. After five years changing the
fortunes of the Safari Garden hotel in Fajara (now handed
over to local management), we settled on the Kartong
region as the location for our Eco-Retreat and Learning

Centre,

In the traditional manner, we sent a gift of Kola nuts to


the village elders, who then invited us to a discussion,
Determined to ensure that the local community would
benefit, we registered the land in the villages name,
Kartong was the first village to reclaim indigenous land

that had been re-owned by the government for private


investment. We now sub-lease the land from the village
and it will revert fully to village management at the end of
the 25-year lease,
Sandeles (pronounced San-day-le) name was carefully
chosen, 'Sandele is derived from twoMandinka words
(the Mandinka are the majority tribe of The Gambia),
'Sine means 'now and 'Dehli means 'be still. Often when
rocking her baby to sleep, a mother will whisper the
words 'Sineedehleh, 'Now be still. This is a wonderful
strap line for an eco-retreat,

Sustainability
We also very deliberately set out to create an authentic E-

co-Retreat the ' standing for 'Environmental with the

use of sustainable energy sources, reduction of water


usage (including the decision to use composting toilets)
and sustainable construction methods which was a
particular challenge. We wanted to use as little of the
precious timber as possible because the forests need

protection. Concrete, with its high environmental impact,


is not really an alternative, and locally used mud blocks

were not able to resist the water during the rainy season,

It was because of this that we learnt a perfect building


technique from Auroville; it is possible to mix earth with

lime, and then by compressing the earth in the machine


we imported from India the blocks become hard and
waterproof, and easy to build with. We have lots of lime
that we can extract from the millions of oyster shells at
the river banks, and the soil that we have here at Sandele
is perfect for this kind of technique. All our buildings are
made of compressed, stabilised earth blocks,
The system was so successful that we started a
building company to construct buildings in this style all
over The Gambia,

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Responsible tourismanddream holidays in the ecolodge,

Community
The 'Co in E-co stands for 'Community5 with a
commitment to hire at least 70% of staff from the local
village, to purchase locally where possible and donate part
of the proceeds from our room revenue to the Village
Development Fund, From the beginning we took every
step in consultation with the elders and the Village
Development Committee, In the big hotels local people
have no access, unless they are employees. Many villagers
everywhere in Africa try to make a living from selling
jewellery and other handicraft items to tourists, and
many tourists feel disturbed by the 'bumstering5 while
they want to relax,
In Sandele it is done differently. Vendors are not turned
away at our gates, but quite the opposite, we sit with them
and offer to exhibit their products in our reception and sell
it for a fair price. They make a much better income out of
that. Some of the producers followed our offer to work in
the workshops that we created. They have become
amazing messengers for their culture while the tourists
admire their skilfulness,
One of the villagers, who was actually very shy, could
only speak to the tourists when he was drunk. He had
become rejected by his community, Through our
approach this absolutely changed. By selling his products
here, he has been able to pay scholarships for two of his
nephews and is well-regarded in the village now,

We spent all of our savings building the lodges and the


restaurant. Some of the lessons learnt along the way were

rather expensive, so our savings were exhausted earlier


than we hoped. Now we build rooms when we have made
a good income, which is not easy at the moment. Although
The Gambia has not had a single case of Ebola, nearly all
tourists and yoga groups cancelled their arrangements,
We now have to pull together to be able to employ our
workers throughout the year, not only in the sunny
(winter) season. We are very positive that tourists will
come again. Sandele is now the last place where the forest
still goes down to the beach, and the Minister of Tourism
has promised to protect the bay from 'mass tourism and
deforestation. It is only a pity that most tourists miss the
rainy season as the bush bursts into life, it is still very
sunny and the rain is not constant by any means,

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as a sustainable alternative to concrete,

EDE
In 2014, we organised an EDE course with GEN and Gaia
Education, 24 young participants came from Kartong,
Learning about permaculture, community governance,
land use, planning and keeping cultural heritage was a
life-changing experience for all of them, and most try to
apply the knowledge and skills in Kartong, There is now a

permaculture garden in the village, an organic bee-keeper,


and a community that invests a lot in sustaining
themselves by producing traditional palm oil and wine, A

project to maintain the regeneration of the fish and oyster


populations in the mangroves of their river has started,
They have become change agents in Kartong, with a
strong wish to transition it into an ecovillage,
Of course the process is not always s mooth, At times
power conflicts arise and some in the village are afraid
that things will get out of their control,
The Gambia has a big gift to offer the world, Gambians
know how to live together peacefully even with different
cultures and religions. They will also learn how to
integrate their traditional knowledge into sustainability
strategies,
When our 25-year lease is up, we look forward to
retiring to our house on the site, under the shade of a
Baobab tree, and remain a part of the community,

Gilbert Jassey, a villager from Kartong


"My family sent me to our capital Banju to study law and
become a lawyer. In 2011 1 saw a presentation by Kosha

Joubert about Ecovillages and GEN, This inspired me so


deeply that 1 decided to go back to Kartong and stayed
there. After reading a book about permaculture and after
attending an EDE course in Sieben Linden, Germany, 1
started a permaculture demonstration garden and helped
to organise the EDE course in Kartong in 2014.
www.sandele:com

Keywords for Solution Library:


Responsible Tourism creating revenue streams while
protecting environments
Compressed Earth Bricks building with local resources
Compost Toilets in Islamic Regions 4 solving cultural
discomfort with sustainable solutions
solution..eco village:org

Where Top-Down andBottom-Up


Strategies Meet
Mbackombel, Guede Chantier, Senegal
Worldwide, Senegals government is the first to
implement a national ecovillage programme for
sustainable development. After noticing the success of the
national network, GEN-Senegal, in transitioning 45
traditional villages, in August 2008 the government
decided to transition every second village of the country
14,000 in all into an ecovillage. While this target
sounds extremely ambitious, the National Agency for
Ecovillages ANEV has already created more than 100
ecovillages. Here, we explore the village of Mbackombel as
an example of the challenges and successes of
implementing a bottom-up approach through a
governmental agency. Also, Dr, Ousmane Fame reports on
Guede Chantier, one of the communities of GEN -Senegak

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Mbackombelisnamedafter the huge baobab tree thatforms the

centre of the village. Here, thefarmers try oat new ways oforganic

gardening with mixedcultures, seeddiversity anddrip irrigation.

Mbackombel and ANEV, Dr. Ousmane Pame


A drive through rural Senegal reveals the challenges of

this region: the West African country is threatened with


desertification and a loss of biodiversity. After many years
of international pressure to move away from traditional
organic agriculture towards large scale agro-industrial
production the soil is often left depleted. Whole areas have
been deforested by goats, and by villagers in search of
firewood, leaving behind single baobab trees that define
the atmosphere of the landscape. At the edge of the small
villages and their thatched huts, very little grows on the
dusty fields. Migration intourban slums is advancing
rapidly,
Mbackombel, home to 550 families, is located about
100 km from Dakar, and is one of the ANEV pilot projects,
Villagers welcome visitors by singing and dancing under
the majestic baobab village tree. They then lead them to
the photovoltaic systems which have changed the life of
this remote village significantly. Its residents now have
access to streetlights and lighting in their homes. There is
even a computer room in the school with solar
rechargeable laptops that enable both children and adults
to connect to the world via internet. Here, the global and
the local meet with surprising intimacy. The villagers
developed a system where all users pay a small fee for

lighting. This income finances the maintenance of the


system, offering work to the local youth.

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Solarpanels inMbackombelhave brought light to the nigh ts',

Ecovillage Techniques
Some women present the new firewood-saving cooking
techniques. Cooking is an intimate part of any culture,
However, the biogas plant, fed with the manure of their
livestock, and directly connected to gas cooking stoves, is
not in full use. It takes time, and requires full ownership
over the process for people to change their lifestyles. In
contrast, the village women were directly involved in the

development of the clay rocket stoves which are now used


widely. They even improved on the designs that had been
made by the representatives of the University of Dakar in
a rare example of grassroots teaching academia. Now the
wood-saving cooking stoves are built and sold in
Mbackombel and form part of the economic base of the
community. Various solar cookers are used to dry peanuts
and to demonstrate further solar technologies,
Other ecovillage techniques implemented at
Mbackombel, with greater and lesser degrees of success
include: reforestation, climate-friendly farming methods
in community gardens, bio- construction with compressed
earth bricks, breeding local chickens, rainwater storage
ponds, water-saving irrigation methods, and protection
for tree plantations against the goats. These techniques
have clearly improved living standards in the village and
its satellite homesteads. But the question for every
development project is to what extent the process is rooted
in participatory processes and owned by the people in the
local community. Ideally, of course, true ownership
would entail being fully involved in and rightfully proud
of their achievements, and in the future, to be able to
define their own development schemes, ANEV tries to
attain local buy-in by only working with those
communities who actively apply to become part of the
programme and are willing to take responsibility for all its
consequences. All population groups have to agree to this

elders, the men, the women and the youth. They


also need to agree to dedicate a part of their village land to
reforestation. Another condition applied is that the
villagers share their new green infrastructure with
surrounding villages, A certain percentage of revenue
earned from these infrastructures has to be saved through
a community banking system for times of crisis, as well
as an initial funding for follow-up projects,
The head of ANEV, Col, Demba Ba explains his
approach, "We focus on four areas: strengthening of
village governance structures; local food security,
including decentralised water and soil management;
renewable energy; the activation of the private sector for
sustainable funding,"
The ecovillage activities of the government are inspired
and supported by the powerful Sufi traditions in the
country, Abdulaye Makthar Diop, Grand Serigne of Dakar:
"The concept of ecovillage is deeply compatible with the
traditional cultures of our country. In all religions the tree
is seen as a brother. In Islam, if you plant a tree, it is seen
as a charity. The roots of the trees are like the roots of our
people,"
the

Global Ecovillage Summit


In December 2014 a Global Ecovillage Summit took place
in Dakar, 40 countries were represented at this
conference, which was hosted by GEN in collaboration
with the Senegalese government. It was a fascinating

challenge to bridge the gap between bottom-up and topdown approaches, but also allow the tension of the gap to
be felt. Clearly, there is a lot that both sides can bring to
strengthen the work of the other with the government
sector helping to mainstream an ecovillage approach for
sustainable development, and GEN and Gaia Education
bringing to the table their rich experience around
participatory design and grassroots leadership.
At a sumptuous reception, the Senegalese Prime
Minister expressed his personal commitment, as well as
that of his President, to promote the ecovillage concept
across the African continent. The Secretary General of the
Ministry of Environment shared a resolution at the
closing ceremony, proclaiming the Senegalese Presidents
full support for GEN and the values it stood for. The icing
on the cake was provided by Senegalese mega music star,
Youssou NDour, an honorary government ministerial
adviser, who announced that he would be happy to serve
as a Goodwill Ambassador for GEN.
The ANEV activities build on the successful work of
GEN-Senegal, One of the ecovillages belonging to this
network is Guede Chantier, andits story is told by its
former mayor, and current President of GEN-Africa, Dr.
Ousmane Pame.

Guede Chantier, First Eco-community of


Senegal, Dr. Ousmane Pame

Guede Chantier in the Senegal River Valley was founded in


1933 by French colonists in order to introduce irrigated
agriculture to the region. In the process, the French forced
many people from villages and neighbouring countries
such as Mali andMauritania to relocate to Guede. The
development of water basins for farming at Guede was
accompanied by a considerable demographic rise. Indeed,
from its original 600 inhabitants (some 50 households),
Guedes population grew to nearly 7,000 people. Today,
Halpulaars (the majority), Wolofs, Sarakholes, Maures
and Bambara live here in harmony.
Guede became a prosperous socioeconomic crossroads
that invigorated many bordering villages. Since the 60s,
many institutions have successfully supported local
agricultural development by investing in the surrounding
irrigated farms that have experienced more lucrative
outputs as a result. Today, Guede Chantier alternates rice
production and polyculture (tomatoes, onions, corn, okra,
etc. and also produces local and exotic fruits from its
family orchards, as well as honey and medical plants.
Until the 70s Guede was an oasis gifted with a unique
microclimate, favoured by the numerous irrigation canals
that traverse it, and characterised by the greenness of its
rice paddies, its community garden, and multiple family
orchards.

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represen tatives during the GENSummit inDakar inDecember 2014\

Today, Guede is far removed from this era of abundance


and carefree living; desertification is spreading rapidly,
the cycle of seasons is disrupted, plant populations are
suffering, animal populations have plummeted, sand
storms, once rare, are more frequent and violent, heat
waves reign and soar beyond all previous records. The
lives of citizens, farmers, and fishermen are thrown into
disarray. The difficulties for Guede started at the
beginning of the SOs, when the agricultural sector of

Guede Chantier, now largely industrialised, started to be


eaten away by multiple constraints such as the high cost
of inputs (seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, etc,), lack of respect
for the agricultural calendar, continuous soil and water
degradation, and thus weaker and weaker yields. Many
farmers got into debt. The crisis is profound and
multifaceted and affects all sectors of the socioeconomic
livelihood of the village,
These growing difficulties pushed the population to
organise reflection days; in September 2002, over three
days, all layers of the population (farmers, women, youth,
fishermen, students, teachers, technicians, the
unemployed, the retired) took part in the creation of a
document that described all of the problems, and offered
strategies for solving them. In December 2007, Guede held
a general assembly and committed to the ideals of the
national network of ecovillages (GENSEN), becoming the
first ecovillage in the Senegal River Valley,
The concept of an eco-community integrates the social,
economic, cultural and ecological perception of the world,
Beyond purely ecological concerns, ecovillages are
committed to preserving and promoting the science and
technology of their ancestors, and fundamental cultural
values like jokkere endam the primacy of community
solidarity. This happens at the same time as
implementing innovative projects that are healthier and
more sustainable, and adapted to the setting that is Guede

Chantier,

Now, the Association of Eco-guardians regularly


organises set-setal(large- scale public clean-up efforts). It

educates the population through theatre-plays about the


dangers of plastic litter, chemical poisons in the fields,
childhood malnutrition and Sexually Transmitted
Infections, This means of communication is well adapted
to the setting as nearly 65% of the population is illiterate,
A centre of genetic resources was created to reinforce the
struggle against environmental degradation while
promoting the repopulation of local species. Local seeds
are produced and freely distributed to associations of
farmers who receive field-school lessons on composting,
seed production and organic products, Senegalese and
American students regularly serve as interns to these
projects. It is however necessary to note that the
organisation faces many financial difficulties,
The women of the community benefit from education
on techniques for processing and preserving fruits and
vegetables for storage and for sale at the market. The
association of women has many orchards and has
organised a special economic interest group. Soon, thanks
to the support of the EU, the eco-community will own a
multifunctional community environmental centre that
will prepare the population of Guede and the department
of Podor to adapt to the threat of climate change:
desertification, soil erosion, irregular patterns of

precipitation, floods, etc. The Centre will hold conferences,


host film screenings, expositions, and theatrical
productions,. It will be equipped with computer
equipment to connect the community to the youth of the
world, notably with the Global Ecovillage Network, Guede
Chantier, first eco-town of Senegal, is actively supported
by the State of Senegal and by many other national and
international partners. Today, the strongest hope of the
Eco-community is to own a community radio station, and
to completely transition to the development of organic
agriculture. Ecovillages may be the model that helps
Senegal to find its own way into the future, as it
corresponds more deeply to our traditions than the
Western lifestyle,
Keywords for Solution Library:
Rocket Stove reducing the use of firewood for cooking
Cross-Sector Dialogue preparing the ground for societal
change
sollition,eco village, org

LATIN AMERICA
A Dream of Peace, Self-sufficiency

and Samba
Sao Paulos Favela da Paz / Brazil
According to the United Nations, more than half the
world's population live in cities. By 2050, it will be twothirds, As a consequence, the slums of the cities grow,
Today, nearly one billion people live in slums. In Latin
America alone, they make up 24% of the population.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the
United Nations, the city population is threatened mostly
by rising food costs and scarcity of raw materials, while
violence and crime are additional afflictions. The
ecovillage concept refers to villages and communities as
human-scale settlements in both rural areas and urban
neighbourhoods. Slums can become more sustainable and
safer places as people start to feel empowered and gain a
voice in society, consume fewer resources, and learn how
to produce some of their food and energy. The ecovillage

movement has some examples:

Jardim Angela, with its 800,000 inhabitants, was


ranked by the UNO as one of the most brutal
neighbourhoods in the world in the 90s, Residents living
in the official city are hardly aware of this world, except
that it is considered dangerous. What they do not know is
that, in contrast to the anonymous city centres, here in
the favela people know each other and help each other out
whenever they cam The Tavela da Paz has grown into a
model project for self-sufficiency. Claudio Miranda, 41,
the man with the irresistible smile, is its part-time
initiator because, in actuality, he is a musician!

Claudio Miranda
1 was born and raised in this area. There is always police,
drug trafficking and violence always. It is an area

where streets are full of street children and we do not let


our own children into the street; where the rubbish has
not been collected for 20 years because the settlement is
not officially recognised; and where we never know what
is worse: police or gangs. As a child, my brother and 1 gave
concerts on tin cans. After all, there was plenty of garbage
around, and real musical instruments were unattainable.
The music attracted other children and so, with 13 others,
1 started the band Poesia Samba Soul, which still makes
music today.

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1 do not know what would have happened to us if it


were not for music. One of my best friends was shot dead
during a police raid. 1 nearly suffered a similar fate. One

night when we were youngsters, we went out with our


instruments to a neighbouring favela to give a concert.
Driving a car was quite normal for us, despite our youth.
When we arrived at a police check they claimed that 1 had
stolen all these instruments. One of the policemen held a
gun to my head and said: "Boy, can you prove that these
are really your instruments? 1 was shaking all over and
was sure that he would shoot us all if 1 did not play. 1 took
my cavaquinho, a small guitar the first instrument 1

learnt to play, and with the gun to my head,Iplayed for


my life. When the policeman heard the music, he slowly
removedthe gun. Since that moment 1 have known how
deeply music can touch someone. In the meantime, 1 play
40 instruments, and our band won prizes and today
performs throughout the country,

Tool of Change
For me, music became a tool of change, of transformation,
We set up a music cellar in our parents' house, where we

also gave lessons. My father has always supported us,


Hundreds of children and young people have gone
through our School of Music since 1990. Many of them
have left the drug scene and, through music, found
purpose to their lives. More and more people were making
music, but we had no way to make recordings. In 2004,
we opened our first improvised studio. We now have eight
professionally equipped rooms and receive more than 300
musicians every month. In 2010, we organised a Favela
Music Festival with 30 bands, it was a huge success. It
should help to change the perception of the favela as a
violent and terrible place, so that you can see its beautiful
aspects. We can live together in peace!
We have sought other ways in which young people can
find an expression for their dreams so that they may find
their path in life, and also offer work with videos and
movies,

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BuildingaPermaculture Garden in afavela house: a step towards

freedom,

Through art, we experience freedom, but nevertheless our


reality is harsh. There is little work. At times we have
electricity but no water, then vice versa. The food is
unhealthy. We almost never see something green
growing. My kids played in the narrow apartment,
because the streets were run by drug dealers and gangs,
And as the houses are not official, they can always be
demolished by the government. We knew we had to do
something, but didnt know what. My wife Hellem, my
brother Fabio and other friends and band members pooled
their money and funded my trip to Europe, Amongst other

places, 1 visited Tamera in Portugal and saw things that 1


had never heard of before: permaculture, solar energy,
ecovillages andmuch more,

Favela da Paz
During this time 1 had a dream. 1 saw all the people in our
street and there are 3,000 people all generations
happily living with permaculture, solar energy and a lot of
music. When 1 came back, 1 wrote a new Samba Song:
'Favela da Pazt In it,Idescribe a green area, not rich, but
independent and free. The song was a hit and helped us
find a way to realise the dream. Supporters were found,
Lush Company from England, the Global Campus from
Portugal, and the Elos Center of Sao Paulo brought money,
international know-how and helpers.
Our family home an 'unofficial3 favela house which
has had a new storey built on it with each succeeding
generation has now been turned into an ecological
model house! Friends from Europe came and built a solar
shower. The luxury of having a hot shower for as long as
we want quickly made news in the neighbourhood. We
established a permaculture garden on our roof, which gets
soaked by rain water and therefore keeps itself watered. In
our street, where green was rarely seen, the neighbours
now collect the seeds from fruits to see them germinate in
our roof garden.
And a year later, friends came from the Global Campus
and built a mini biogas plant. It works like an artificial

cows stomach: the food scraps and content of the compost


toilet are digested and produce methane gas for cooking.
Our neighbours are amazed when they see the gas flame
burn for the first time: "A miracle, they exclaim.
We regularly invite neighbours to our open house to

show them whats new. And we invent other days, such as


'Childrens Day, where we invite the street kids. They can
come and play, paint themselves, draw pictures and
simply be.

Community Wishes
For many years we have invited the neighbours and

schools in the district to a concert on a monthly basis. In


the neighbourhood concert of October 2013, Paulo Mellett,
Ruth Andrade and the Elos Center played with us the
"Oasis Game". We launched a survey among residents of
the neighbourhood and asked: What do you wish for the
most? Most answered: that the children can play outside
again. But also: that trees should grow in the quarter. And
that finally after years the garbage should be
collected. That was the initiation of an action that
changed the whole neighbourhood. Many people from the
fa vela joined in.

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Connecting the neighbours andintroducing them to new ideas of


sustainability, organicfoodandenergy,

In February 2014, we celebrated the opening of a jointly


established playground with a folk festival, samba, and a
local market. The trees that we planted are still small. But
the garden in the courtyard has hadits first harvest
already. And then came what many have been waiting for
over half their lives: the city actually sent a garbage

disposal truck!!
1 dream that in the future all favelas will turn into
peace favelas and 1 would like to thank everyone who has
supported us,
Keywords for Solution Library:
Urban permaculture bringing nature back into the
cities
Oasis Game co-creating miracles from community
dreams
Day of the Children putting children at the centre of the
community
solution.eco village\ org

The Cultivation of Culture


Tenonde Pora / Brazil
The community of the indigenous tribe Tenonde Pora is
located within Sao Paulo city, and is connected to the
Latin-American ecovillage network. After living with the
community, Henny Freitas realises that even though it is
besieged in the largest metropolis of the Southern
Hemisphere, the beautiful and sustainable elements of
genuine and timeless indigenous culture are truly alive
here, Henny is a journalist who has been investigating
and documenting sustainable approaches within
intentional communities around South America and
Oceania since 2008, During the 'Llamado de la Montana', a
sustainability conference which took place in Colombia in
2012, she participated in the process of forming CASA
(Council of Sustainable Settlements of the Americas) and
has been involved in writing articles for the GEN
newsletter ever since,

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Henny Freitas
Following the philosophy of the Native American Iroquois
Confederacy, in which chiefs must consider the impacts of
every action taken for seven generations ahead, the
Brazilian indigenous tribes have been fighting from one
generation to another to keep their language and customs
alive whilst living amongst the colonising 'white
civilisation,

Long before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, the


first inhabitants of Brazil lived in aldeias (villages), deep
within the ancient forests, spread across the four edges of
the country. It is suggested that in the 16th century, the

whole territory was occupied by up to 4 million


inhabitants belonging to over 1,000 separate indigenous
tribes.
According to anthropologist and writer, Darcy Ribeiro
(195 7), during the first half of the 20th century, the
indigenous population was estimated to be around
200,000 people, A quick sum shows that in only 4
centuries the native Brazilians suffered a decline of 95%,
Today, this figure is changing. Studies show that since the
start of the 21stcentury most indigenous tribes have been
growing at a rate of about 3,5% per year.
Anthropologists, demographers and health care
professionals wonder whether the rise in population is a
result of indigenous people living within demarked
territories, having better access to medical assistance and
increasing fertility, or whether it is in fact the result of a
conscious decision to pursue a demographic recovery,

Philosophy inPractice
Despite speculation, there is still time for the Brazilian
indigenous communities to put their Native Northern
American comrades philosophy into practice. That is, if
the 'white civilisation stop interfering.
Tenonde Pora is one of the three Guarani tribes located
in Sao Paulo city. The tribe is also besieged in one of the
largest and most green areas of its 96 districts because the
area is being threatened by the construction of what
would be the third airport in the capital. In order for us to

enter and document their rich culture, multiple telephone

and email conversations are exchanged After an initial


visit and long talk with a tribal ambassador, a period of
stay is finally organised for us.
Backpacks packed, equipment tested and a lift
arranged, we arrive! But it is not to be as simple as it
seemed. Our honesty, integrity and intention all need to
be proven during two long hours of eye-to-eye meeting
with the Cacique (Chief) Timoteo Vera Popygua and two
other leaders of the tribe.
When the talk is over, the day has already given way to
night and, even though we still don't know if we can stay,
accommodation is provided for us in an empty village
house for that first night. It is not until the next morning
that we are given final approval to explore the local
culture more,

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The Tenonde community tries toprotect thenaturalparadise inside


the municipality o/SdoPaulo.

Cock-a-doodle-doo
We wake up at the crack of dawn with the chortling of the
roosters. After composing and printing out a contract

document stating our intention, we are ready to present


ourselves to the cacique again. The paperwork is read and
signed by us all and our passport into the daily life of the
community is metaphorically stamped and granted,
Tenonde Pora is the largest indigenous tribe of Guarani
ethnicity in Sao Paulo city. The community was formed
around 1930 by a group of 6 families. After 1960, more
family members started to arrive from various regions

inside and outside Brazil, The current cacique is an


example of this migration. Mr Vera Popygua arrived from
Parana (Southern Brazil) in 1983 to live in an area that
would be demarcated and officially sanctioned just a few
years later, in 1987. Today the aldeia has about 120
families sharing a space of 26 ha with a population of 700,
On a rainy afternoon, near the end of our stay, the
cacique, Timoteo, sits down with us to explain more about
the Guarani culture, diffused between Brazil, Paraguay,
Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, Traditionally, the
Guaranis didnt have chiefs to govern their tribes. Our
leaders have always been the Pajes (shamans). They are
our spiritual guides and counsellors,
He explains to us that the term cacique was coined in
order to name the person in charge of representing the
tribe outside its borders, to the jeruas, literally meaning
'mouth with hair making reference to the moustache
and beard of the European conquerors. Today Jerua is a
generic reference to any nonundigenous person,
As the cacique of Tenonde Pora, Timoteos biggest role
within the community is to make sure that the rights of
its citizens are respected. He also says that being a
representative is an opportunity to act as a voice for their
culture and traditions to be correctly understood. Culture
is what we cultivate. The Guaranis have a millenary
knowledge. Our wisdom, as well as our traditions and
language, have been passed on by our relatives from

generation to generation,

Jaguars, toucans, coatis* * *


During our stay at the aldeia, the house we are offered on
the first night becomes our home for the following week,
With a wood fireplace and simple furnishings, we find
ourselves comfortable and self-sufficient, cooking our
own meals and happily entertaining visitors with our
warm hearth and fresh coffee,
We live next to a beautiful family who keep many of
the traditions alive. Our neighbours are a loving couple
and their two children a smiley girl of 5 and an
enchanting boy of 2, The father, Isac, is a timber
craftsman and shows us that the art of carving wild
animals is in his blood. The proof is clear as we closely
follow his skilled work as he transforms pieces of treetrunk into incredible jaguars, toucans, owls and coatis, to
name but a few,
Our door is always open, and our new friend, his
children and many others join us by our fire. Often the
kids come from school, telling us of their day and
questioning us about our Western ways,
At Tenonde Pora, children between 1 and 6 years old
are taught by villagers speaking only the Guarani Mbya
language, learning about their traditions, culture and the
world around them. After their 7th birthday, combined
with their cultural teachings, they also learn Brazilian
Portuguese and have external teachers coming to educate

them in a more conventional schooling method In this


way children receive a blended education giving priority
to their own teachings and philosophy.
Together with a traditional midwife facility and a
modern medical clinic, the educational centre is located at
the heart of the aldeia, Mothers are welcome to participate
in the schools activities, including; singing, dancing,
story-telling, along with spending time visiting the local
Mata Atlantica to study the forest's diversity and
significance, amongst many other subjects. Whilst
visiting the school, we arrange to return in the evening in
order to share our views about sustainability with the
older teenagers,
We are introduced to the other features of the tribal
grounds and led across the land by Lisio Lima one of the
leaders of the community, Lisio was the ambassador we
spoke to on our initial visit and was also present with us
at the two-hour conversation with the cacique upon our
arrival,

He himself is a talented craftsman, making many types


of jewellery and artefacts, which he uses to promote

cultural awareness whilst presenting talks and lectures at


conferences and fairs all over the country,
During this walk and talk we get a real feel for the land
and find many positive footprints upon it. The highlight
of the expedition is our arrival at a self-built bridge,
constructed with light logs perched on forked branches,

connected without nails or bindings. They use the passage


to cross the depths of a reed-filled dam called 'Billings,
where they fish from an elevated platform amongst the
frog calls.

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Music andprayer are inheren tparts of the traditionalculture that

the community is trying to maintain,

House of Prayer
Once we get back to the community centre, it is already

time to cook our dinner before preparing ourselves for the


evening. Every night of our stay at the aldeia we take part
in an extensive ceremony. This is perhaps the most
culturally alive aspect of village life for this large spiritual
family who have warmly 'adopted' us.

On our first night at the Casa deReza{house of prayer),

where the nightly ritual takes place, the paje Papa sheds
tears when mentioning the dream he had about people
coming to stay with them for a certain period of time to
understand more about their culture and traditions. We
humbly accept our role as temporary residents and speak
at length to the congregation about our joy at being there,
There are things that happen in a place that words
cannot describe and only those who are present can truly
understand. These nights, spent clouded by thick tobacco
smoke and surrounded by devotion and ceremony, are
something we will never forget. They have embedded in
our mind and hearts an understanding of Guarani culture
that is as alive as the blood flowing through its peoples
veins,

Keywords for Solution Library:


Community Midwifery enabling women to give birth at
their homes
Traditional Rituals reconnecting with the spirit of
nature

Traditional schooling methodology /practices passing


on indigenous wisdom
solution..eco village,org

The Decision for Life


Peace Community San Jose de Apartado /

Colombia
In March 1997 brutal fighting took hold in the region of
Apartado in the north of Colombia, Guerrillas and
paramilitary forces chased the farmers off their land. Both
groups use a terrible technique known as 'burnt earth'
that destroys houses, forests and rivers. In the small
village of San Jose de Apartado around 1000 farmers, trade
unionists and refugees have come together to form a peace
community. They adhere to rules of nonviolence,

determined to stay neutral between the two fronts, and


work with tools of peaceful resistance. The immediate
danger is all too real: over the years violence has claimed
the lives of 200 members of the peace community. Every
family in the village has at least one murdered member
whether a parent, child or sibling. The state does not
protect them; on the contrary, they are suspected of being
supporters of the guerrillas and have therefore been
classified as outlaws,

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In spite of every adversity the peace community

continues. Together they s ucceed in growing organic


cocoa and bananas, international support helps to protect
the community, A school was initially established,
followed by a health clinic and a medicinal herb garden, a
small chocolate factory and a solar power plant. The
village is free from weapons and has become legendary
amongst the surrounding guerrillas, military,
paramilitary and drug lords. Eduar Lanchero
accompanied the peace community from its
establishment until his death in June 2012,

Eduar Lanchero

A long history of violence precedes the establishment of

the peace community. The Uraba region always balanced


precariously between hopes of peace on one side and
global capitalist interests on the other. The government of
Colombia has mainly sided with foreign capital As long
ago as 1929, the UnitedFruit Company later re-named
as Chiquita was established in the region. They needed
land and workers and therefore started to displace land
owning farmers. As landless people they were then forced
to work for low wages in inhumane working conditions
on the plantations. When they organised in unions, the
companies started to fight them. Military documents
today provide evidence that paramilitary units were
already established by the early 1960s, They murdered
trade union leaders, ousted farmers and threatened
workers. Since then war has reigned. The guerrillas
became active in the region only from 1978 onwards,

Community Establishment
By 1996 the remnants of organised civil society had been
annihilated. People were helpless and their only hope of

survival was to leave. This horror made possible the


current situation we live in today. By attacking San Jose
the last stronghold of the left wing party Union Patriotica
the paramilitary groups wanted to demonstrate that
they had conquered the entire region. It was around this
time that the peace community was established,
On the 23rd of March, 1997, representatives from 32

hamlets of the municipality of San Jose gathered and


declared themselves to be the neutral peace community of
San Jose de Apartado. The Red Cross, the Commission for
Peace and Justice, as well as other international witnesses
were present. 1, myself came with the Inter-Church
Commission for Justice and Peace to San Jose. Their
decision was the only logical choice in the face of this
violence. However we sensed how risky the intentions of
the campesinos would be. 1 could not talk them into
taking this step while not taking the same risk as they did.
And soIbecame one of them.

Core Principles
The logic of the guerrillas, paramilitary and military is
simple; if you are not on their side you are on the enemys
side. The peace community was the first national example
of a neutral entity to declare that it did not want to work
with either party. Four days after the declaration of the
community, on the 27th of March, 1997, a series of
massacres, attacks and bombings started across the whole
area. The villages emptied out. Those who survived, a
population of 6,000 people, fled, and 3 20 ended up living
in San Jose. We changed our focus; we were no longer
defending our land, but also our lives,

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Allmembers of thePeace Community help to buildthe village,

The peace community was an obstacle to the government


claiming our land. But the peace community also became
a problem for the guerrillas because we were the first ones
who clearly said: "We do not follow your orders. We do not
support you and want nothing to do with you". And so we
became the target of all sides. The logic of this war is to
contaminate the population with fear But this
community stood upright even after their leaders were
murdered. Instead of panicking, the peace community
created their core principles:

* No support or co-operation with any armed conflict


parties

Peaceful and nonviolent resistance


* No weapons
* No drugs (no cultivation, no dealing or use)
* No alcohol
* Mutual support (e,g, during food cultivation, health)
* Transparency within the group,

Birthing a New Lifestyle


We recognised a fundamental theme: although we stand

up against the armed groups, these are not the only ones
that murder. It is the logic behind the system, the entire
way of life which is violent. Therefore we decided that we

would have to live, think and work differently, if we


wanted to bring forth life. One aspect that had to change
was land ownership. Land has to be maintained and cared
for by the community. We also realised that fear makes
people controllable and exploitable.. The farmers were in
fear when they worked alone. So we started to work in
groups,

The armed groups and the government were constantly


lying, so we realised that we had to be transparent. We
needed to learn to speak the truth amongst ourselves with
no regard to the consequences.
The central element that lies at the root of our
principles is the search for justice. But there was no justice
within the current systems logic, so we started global
partnerships with other resistance groups. Together we

can build a peaceful society, a non-violent world. This


means more than simply stopping war, but also meeting
criteria that inspire and ensure life.

In February 2005, Luis Eduardo Guerra, speaker of the


peace community, as well as eight other people, were

brutally killed by the paramilitary. In the camouflage of


apparent protection, the government announced that they
would establish a military station in San Jose, For us this
was not a sign of protection but rather the opposite: we
assumed for many years that the military and
paramilitary worked very closely together. Just a short
while ago this assumption was proven in court. To live in
the same village as the military was not an option for us:
that would have been the end of neutrality. We decided to
collectively leave the village, as an act of unity, A few
kilometres further down the road we secured some land
and established a new village on the green meadows along
a river. We call it San Josecito the small San Jose, We
built homes, meeting spaces, a health clinic, a small cocoa
factory, a school, a library, a house for international
supporters, and also solar power plants, to be independent
from the governments electricity supply,

Importance of Hope
Due to the fact that we are living a new life, death gains a
different meaning too. Death bows down to life. This
thought helps us overcome the horrific trauma that
armed groups created. The state and the armed units say:

"We did everything possible, yet we could not destroy

them. They ask themselves what they can still do to us.


In their blindness, the murderers cannot see that they can
do anything they want to us, but the community will still
be there, as long as pain can be transformed into hope.
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In themiddle ofa civil war, between thefrontlinesofguerrilla and

paramilitary, thereis an oasis ofnon- violenceandpeace.

And what is hope? It appears when we stop hating our


murderers. In our daily lives we boldly say to them that
their murdering does not bring them victory over us. At
the beginning we wanted to change the world; today we
see that we have changed the world because we stayed
unified as one community.

Ibelieve that we can make it. We need training and

education for youth so that they may not be tempted by


the plastic fruits of the city that at the end of the day
squeeze no juice. We need a type of internal educational
system, a kind of political monastery where we as the
community come together to learn alternative methods
outside the daily fight for survival High up in the
mountains, in the small hamlet of Mulatos, the place
where Luis Eduardo was murdered, we have started
building such a place,
We must help one another. That is the most important
message. It does not matter how many we are: what
matters is that we are building the new world with every
day that we live. We cannot buildthis other world
tomorrow, we have to build it today,
We made a decision. Our decision is life. And it is life
itself that corrects and leads us.
No ella Tuber quia, 35, works in the fields, knows
medicinal plants and studies most Saturdays in the
community school, A few years ago her village 'la
Cristalina got caught up in the crossfire between the army
and the guerrillas. Her youngest daughter and mother in
law were shot, "The farmers in Colombia have always
been in danger of being attacked and displaced. They steal
our land, our money and food supply and many of us were
killed. Yet the peace community is still there; the kids
learn from a young age what it means to live on the land

and not to allow oneself to be chased off. The farmers


move in small groups across their fields to protect one
another. One day a week we have a community day where
everybody comes together to work. The solidarity within
the peace community is our biggest survival skill,"
Jose Lopez, 24, is a teacher in the school that has
branches in the different hamlets that comprise the peace
community. He walks hours every day through the
forests in order to teach at the different schools. As a
youth he was nearly sucked into becoming a guerrilla,
"On the radio we receive daily invites from various armed
groups to join them. When 1 was 15 my first girlfriend
broke up with me. This was such a big pain for me that 1
wanted to leave everything behind, 1 wanted to go off into
the mountains where 1 had some friends among the
guerrillas, Some joined because they liked it, others out of
revenge because their parents were killed by the
paramilitary. In my case it was simply a broken heart. Yet
God and my community made it clear to me that this was
not a path for a young man in search of peace. With the
guerrillas 1 would have never found peace, only war. Now
1 am happy to be part of the peace community and work in
its educational sector,"

Keywords for Solution Library:


University of Resistance sharing knowledge and skills
for non-violent resistance

Medicinal Gardens strengthening local sovereignty in


healthcare
solution.eco village, org

Building Community and


Resisting Globalisation
Comuna Tola Chica / Ecuador
Comuna Tola Chica is a traditional community in the
Tumbaco Valley of northern Ecuador and a member of the
ecovillage network of Latin America. Ramiro Azana, now
40, has lived in Tola Chica since he was a childl

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In truth, the origins of our community can be traced back
to our ancestors. The word Comuna translates roughly as
Commune, but it has an older, ancestral meaning, and the
Comunas date back to pre-colonial indigenous society,
when private property did not exist and our communities
shared land and decision-making in regional community
groups,

Under colonial Spanish rule, most of our land was


appropriated and redistributed to new Spanish
landowners. However, some groups have maintained
some autonomy and land stewardship and have survived
until today. Our community has a level of autonomy in
organisation and land usage that is recognised under
Ecuadorian law, dating back to a 1937 law, which legally
recognised the right for indigenous communities to
maintain their autonomous communal structures,
Comuna Tola Chica was first formally recognised as a
legal entity in 1944, but the official founding of the
Comuna dates back to the 1920s,

Life in the Comuna


The Comuna is home to over 60 families with a total of
about 400 people. Land ownership is communal and
decisions are taken by a democratic system, with an
organisational council elected by the community to guide
procedures,

The community land is divided into three zones; 1)


Offices and Education 2) Residential and small gardens 3)
Large-scale organic agriculture and reforestation. This
third zone is the largest, and no construction is permitted
there,

We all share the following responsibilities; political

decisions, water issues, large-scale food production areas,


a sports area, the community school, event centre,
training and a future tourism project. Other communal
activities include two annual festivals that bring the
entire community together, and 12 mingas (collective
work days) each year.
From the beginning, the minga has been crucial to
maintain our community. At least one member of the
family must participate or the family must pay a fine. Our
mingas are a source of unity, learning and seeking
together to make progress for the community. Our biggest
miracle is that of working and living together through all
the experiences of life, together with our friends, partners,
children and families to ensure the continuity of the
comuna. This is the adventure of life, as the cornuna
grows and we demonstrate that this form of life is still
possible today.

Resisting Globalisation
The history of the Comunas in Ecuador is a story of
resisting both colonisation and integration into the
modernising and urbanising Ecuadorian society.

In our daily life, our community is trying to stop what

globalisation is bringing into our region. We constantly


struggle to maintain our way of life, while Quito, the big
city, keeps growing. Currently in our valley there are two
mega development projects, a new highway and a new
international airport, which will bring lots of new settlers
and noise to the area, and new laws, so we are once again
preparing to defend ourselves, in the sense that we wish
our community to survive,

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The community comes together to work, tofightagainstgfobalisation


andto celebrate

Since our beginning, we have looked to preserve and


protect the local environment from development, and to
protect our rights and our ability to live a more natural life
on the land, as we have traditionally lived. We are proud
of who we are and how we live, preserving our natural
surroundings. Our way of life allows us to live without
working against nature or anyone else. We are farmers,
and since the beginning have always wanted to protect
our environment, our seeds and our way of life,
More recently, since the year 2000, we have put more
emphasis on bringing together the ancestral knowledge of
our elders with modern knowledge and innovative
solutions,

Reforestation with Native Plants


One of the biggest projects we have taken on is reforesting

the land, much of which has been burned in intentional


fires started by neighbours, who plant eucalyptus as a
cash crop. In the past, we have had to put out these fires,
so now we are always on alert as guardians. We have to
defend the land from people who dont understand
conservation and dont understand why we want to plant
and protect the native flora.
W e have made it clear that we arent against the exotic
species per se, especially eucalyptus, which is very
common here. However we are against planting exotic
species in large-scale production. In order to address this
conflict, we have organised workshops and events to raise

awareness about our reforestation projects. Through these

actions, our experiences are shared. Then we let time pass


and ultimately people realise that we are right, that native
species should be preserved in their places of origin,
We are using our knowledge to recover deforested areas
and to plant native plants in biological corridors. As a
community we have fully reforested 5 acres of land, with
7 more in recovery, and we hope to be able to reforest 50
acres in the future. The reforestation work is hugely
important, because this region suffers a severe dry season
and needs trees to hold water in the ecosystem to support
the human, plant and animal communities,

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Children andyoungpeople learnfrom an early age aboutsustainable


technologies andorganicgardening

Sharing Experience to Inspire Others


1 am an accountant, but now 1 have trained to manage

native plant nurseries and reforestation projects. This has


not been a change for me, because 1 always lived on the
land and 1 always had knowledge in my hands. But 1
decided to share this knowledge, and of course, along the
way 1 have learned much more. My only change has been

with more determination to defend nature from


the damage that we human beings have caused. We are
very intelligent beings, but in the end we are not using our
intelligence very well!
In times of crisis, our call is to raise awareness about
how to live more harmoniously with nature. We offer
everyone the chance to come and experience our way of
life, so people can learn and put this into practice. We
receive hundreds of visitors every year, both locals and
international visitors. But these changes have to be
motivated from within, they cant be an obligation.
Being held in a network is important for everything
else we do. The truth is that if things continue the way
they are going today, hope is far away. But thanks to these
networks, we see that more and more people share our
vision of living a life that treads softly on our earth. So
lets keep getting stronger: with more and more of us, we
can bring back hope for a better world than the one we
have now,

to work

Our Community Elder


We live in the foothills of the Halo volcano, a landscape
that rises up to meet the sky in curves and crevices. Our

land ranges from 2,450m (S,000 feet) above sea level to


3,200m (10,500 feet) above sea level up at the top.
Ilike to take our visitors up to the top of the mountain,
to visit our community elder. We take a short drive up a
rugged dirt road, and stop to look out over the Tumbaco

Valley, The air is very dry up here, and vegetation is low,


mostly grasses. We walk through ecologically damaged
areas, and then we walk through the reforested area,
where native plants are reclaiming territory. The green
mass of trees, vines and bushes form a stark contrast to
the dry grasslands and fields in the surrounding area,
Then we go to visit our community elder, our sacred
tree. Its a huilatree, belonging to the Arrayan family,
Using carbon dating, we have determined this tree to be
1,814 years old[

The huila tree rises just a few metres off the ground,
and at first glance doesnt call too much attention to itself,
But if you close your eyes and tune in to the more subtle
energies, you can feel it: this is a wise and ancient tree. Its
seen generations come and go. It has stood watch as the
valley below has developed, at first little by little and now
at an alarming speed,
What does the huila tree think of the new highway
passing close by on the way to the new Quito
international airport? What does it think of the people
who burn the hillsides to clear native plants in order to
expand commercial eucalyptus production?
The huila tree doesnt speak Spanish, or even Quechua,
That's why we have to speak for it. We have to tell people
that there is an alternative to the current development
model. We can learn to live in harmony with nature and
with each other, and keep alive our cultural traditions. We

stand for a different vision of society, one in which


sustainable communities are the norm, not the
'alternative/

Keywords for Solution Library:


Minga sharing community tasks
Collective Land Ownership re-establishing the
commons

solution..eco village\ org

'm
iThctcxt is based on an interview with Ryan Luc key.

163 Years after Slavery:

Recognising AfroColombian
Communities Rights
Islas del Rosario / Colombia
After many years of legal struggle, an Afro-Colombian
community has been recognised as having the right to be
owners of the Islands of Rosario in the Colombian
Caribbean, Their vision is to transition to an ecovillage,
and revitalise the knowledge and skills of their traditions,

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Ever dela Rosa Morales


My name is Ever de la Rosa Morales, leader of the AfroColombian community of Is las del Rosario, We are around
1,000 people living on 27 small islands in the Colombian
Caribbean, After a legal struggle lasting eight years, and a
long history of exclusion and discrimination, on May 8th
2014 something historic happened; the government of
Colombia finally acknowledged that an Afro-Colombian
community has rights to the islands it has inhabited for

generations,

The history of our community started a long time ago


with the painful process of slavery. People from all around
Africa were shipped to Cartagena to be sold as slaves,
Around the year 1600 more than SO different languages
were spoken in the main port. Some of the slaves managed
to escape and found a way to survive in remote areas of
the country,
Others were forced to work on haciendas until the
abolition of slavery in 1S5 1, Once liberated, they occupied
lands and started to grow food, to fish and to revitalise
their cultures as best they could. The Rosario Islands have
been inhabited by Afro-descendant people for more than
300 years, ever since fishermen from the continental
town of Baru began to grow crops there while they were
resting during fishing expeditions. They built very simple
huts and stayed for a while, then travelled again to the
mainland,

ConflictingInterests
This had been the way for many years, but then wealthier
people from the continent started to fish in the area and
asked the fishermen to take them to the best spots to find
special fish. Suddenly, the land that previously lacked an
owner, but belonged to everyone, started to have a price.
The beauty of the islands, the coral reefs, and wonderful
scenery were all attractive. Since then economic interest
in the islands grew rapidly and our ancestors started to
trade and sold big portions of land.

The area surrounding the islands was declared a


National Natural Park in 1977. At that time 1 was a young
boy living between Isleta andIsla Grande, the two main
inhabited islands, and Cartagena, which is the nearest
city. 1 was learning to fish and loved sports; soon 1 started
to organise teams and games with other children and later
with young people. 1 think my passion to work with and
for the people began in those early days when 1 started to
feel the trust that the community had in me.
The first challenges 1 faced as an elected leader were
related to the lack of interest of the government in Afrocommunities. For them, we were invisible and our needs
were never taken into account in governmental plans. 1
started to meet with people andinstitutions that could
help us to win access, initially, to education and health. 1
began to understand that we were in a very vulnerable
situation. As a community, we didnt have legal
recognition of permanent residence and the government
was looking for ways to evict us.
In 1984, a legal process started. The government
argued that we had illegally appropriated the islands. This
ongoing process intensified around 2005. One of the main
arguments was the importance and beauty of the
ecosystems. The government saw us as a threat to nature,
not taking into consideration that we had cared for the
ecological richness of this area for centuries and that we,
as natives, can be considered a part of these beautiful

ecosystems. In contrast, the authorities seemed to be

unable to address the real environmental threats coming


from mass tourism, industrial fisheries and pollution of
the waters.

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The Afro-Colombian community on theRosarioIslands wants to


maintainits culturalheritage in everyday life:

The Legal/Rights Opportunity


Slowly, we discovered that in the Colombian Constitution
of 1991, Colombia was recognised as a multiethnic and
multicultural country. In 1993, the Afro-Colombian
communities acquired legal tools to demand recognition

of our rights. During different activities thatIattended,I


met people with great knowledge and experience in this
field. In a collective effort we invited them to the
community for talks and workshops. One of the decisions
we took was to create a central town to become more
visible to the external institutions. In 2000, we took back
land that had been abandoned by a rich owner. There we
created our central town Orika, The whole community
participated in what is called 'minga (community
solidarity in action) by our indigenous communities;
some were cooking, others were building...
Our political organisation, which used to be a
Communal Action Board (Junta de Accion Comunal), was
transformed into the Community Council of Islas del
Rosario (Consejo Comunitario de las Islas del Rosario),
which Tm currently representing. We had a beautiful
process of reconstructing the history of the community
with the support of numerous organisations and people
who believed in our struggle. With these maps, in 2006
we officially requested the Collective Title (Land Tenure)
of the two islands, lsla Grande and Isleta, Several legal
complications arose and our application was denied twice.
Many people advised us to accept what the government
was offering; individual contracts for the use of the land
for a given time period. Some government representatives
threatened that the community would be evicted by force
if we did not accept this offer.

After facing several threats,Ireceived a call to inform


us that the army was coming to evacuate members of the
community. We organised ourselves and phoned our
lawyers. When the army arrived we were there, defending
ourselves and our landuntil the letter from the lawyer
arrived. Over the years,I also received several threat calls,
It took courage to keep going. Eventually, after a long
process, the Constitutional Court decided in our favour,
The process has been full of miracles. We attended the
right events, got to know exactly the people who could
help us and were willing to do so. We gained the trust of
the community and their commitment to see the process
through. We found the strength and dignity to confront
those with great economic and decision making power,
Now we have become an inspiration to other
communities, which is very fulfilling. We hope that
miracles, trust and strength continue to manifest so that
every community can also accomplish what is its right:
having ownership of their land and the autonomy to
develop in their own unique way,

Tradition andinnovation towards


sustainability and sovereignty
Over the past 13 years, we have been involved in several
biodiversity conservation and development projects. Some

of the main initiatives include: alternative economic


activities, ecovillage design, waste management and

ecotourism enterprises, solar panel installation,


composting toilets, permaculture home gardens,
environmental education, communitarian water storage
and greening of schools. Each of these projects allowed us
to build on the wealth of our traditions. Nevertheless, we
feel that the connection to our African origins needs to be
revitalised. Currently we are working on a development
plan from our perspective to manifest our dreams,
Community Ecotourism forms a core element of our
current activities. We are generating educational
activities for both visitors and our own people. In the
main plaza of Orika, we built our 'House of Culture,
which has become the heart of these activities. Since 2014
we have been hosting different programmes, such as the
EDE course (Ecovillage Design Education), People from
other communities who see what we do are inspired, and
we share our experiences with them, so that a network of
friendships is growing,

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RosarioIslandis one of thefewparadises leftin the Caribbean:


insteadofmass tourism, the wellbeingof the community andits
children are themain aim of the development

The community of the Islas del Rosario recognises the


importance of integrating traditional and innovative
practices. We see ourselves as an ecovillage in an ecoregion in a constant process of increasing the quality of
life of the community. We are taking care of the
ecosystems that are taking care of our territory for us and
the next generations,
For more than 1S years 1 have been working to promote
the recognition of Afro-Colombian communities rights, to

lead the process of transition from being invisible to


becoming a visible, prosperous, sustainable community,
All my life, 1 have been active in promoting values of
dignity and equality within a difficult environment of
racism and discrimination. Now 1 see that all these efforts
have been fruitful, we can inspire and help other
communities to find solutions in a changing world,

Keywords for Solution Library:


Participatory Action Research learning from
communities
Community Ecotourism inviting visitors in a way that
helps to protect the environment
solution.eco village, org

NORTH AMERICA

Balance Between Old and Young


Sirius Community / Massachusetts, USA
Sirius community was founded in September 1978 by
former members of the Findhorn Community in Scotland
wishing to establish a similar community in their
American homeland. Its foundation is spiritual, but in a
non-sectarian manner that allows for each person to find
their own way. The shared expression reflects reverence
for all Life and a willingness to live in accord with this
intention as much as possible. The community thus
employs ecologically sustainable methods of living and a
consensus-style governance process, striving to honor all
that is,

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Daniel Greenberg

My personal journey into community began with a


robbery. On the evening of September 9, 1989, we packed
our camper van so we could leave the next morning for a
tour of intentional communities across North America.
My partner (and now wife), Monique, was producing a
video documentary on contemporary communes and 1
was writing a doctoral thesis on children and education in

these settings.
At dawn, we were excited to hit the road after months

of planning but were devastated when we found someone


had broken into our van and stolen everything our
clothes, Moniques video camera, my computer, guitar,
even my bootleg Grateful Dead tapes. All gone,
After a week of recovering from the shock, dealing with
insurance companies, and debating whether we should
even go at all, we took a deep breath and started off again,
Our lives have never been the same since,Ilearned more
on the first day 1 set foot in an actual community than in
the two years 1 had spent studying them, and we visited
over 30 in nine months,
Monique was inspired to become a midwife while
visiting the Farm and later completed her documentary
called 'Follow the Dirt Road, We discovered the many uses
of soybeans,Ilearned how to wear a skirt and weave a
hammock. We had long conversations about everything
from attachment parenting to polyamory. And we came to
really love living in community,

Children and Youth


1 discovered children in communities grow up both savvy
and sassy. They see adults building houses, relationships
and political structures . They also see arguments, tears
and social faux pas. Adults become demystified and more

human, and their relationships extend beyond their


nuclear families as they grow into global citizens,
W e then moved to Findhorn in Scotland, and spent a
wonderful year working with children and families. Half

way through, a friend brought over some college students


andI witnessed each of them Top! their lives

transformed by Findhorns visions and practices much


like what had happened to me during our travels,
Something clicked, 1 woke up one night with goose bumps
and a vision to bring more young adults to these ideal
campuses, to learn about living well and lightly in
harmony with each other and the planet,
We returned to the US and in 1999, 1 started Living
Routes, which partnered with University of
Massachusetts Amherst, to run 'study abroad programs
in ecovillages around the world. In the end, over 1,500
Living Routes students woke up to new possibilities for
themselves and the planet at Findhorn (Scotland),
Auroville (India), Kibbutz Lotan (Israel), Huehuecoyotl
(Mexico), EcoY off (Senegal), Crystal Waters (Australia)
and more,
It was life-changing work. After spending time living
and learning in one of these ecovillages, students could
never again say, "It cant be done", because they
experienced doingit. Each student had to ask him- or
herself, "What am 1 going to do? How can 1 make a
difference in my own life and in my own community?"
We also asked ourselves these questions and in 199S,
after visiting and living in so many communities, we
decided to settle down at Sirius, a spiritual community,
education center and ecovillage in western Massachusetts,

Founding Sirius
Sirius was founded in 1978 by two brothers, Bruce and
Gordon Davidson, and their partners, Linda Reimer and
Corinne McLaughlin, After being members of Findhorn for
about five years, they were invited to tour the US and offer
workshops with Peter Caddy, one of Findhorns founders,
After arriving in America, both Bruce and Gordon had
an intuition to start a community in the US. They were
staying with a woman who mentioned that the land
across the street was for sale. But it was mid-December
and they decided to search for land in a warmer climate,
They traveled all around the country offering
workshops and looking for land, but never found
anything, Bruce then returned to Findhorn because Linda
was there and pregnant with their first daughter and
because he was head of the Core Group that was then
dealing with the difficult transition of leadership beyond
Peter,

Gordon and Corrine later came back to where they


started and, while meditating, Gordon received guidance
to buy the land across the street. The owner requested a
$30,000 deposit within three days, but the local bank
wouldnt consider a loan because, not only had they no
money, they didnt even have addresses in the U,S,
The next day, they went to a communities' gathering
and, amazingly, one person gave them a $10,000 donation
and another offered a $20,000 loan on the spot. The

landowner liked their vision and the fact that they weren't
going to chop the land into parcels, so he gave them a
personal mortgage at half the current interest rate and
half the market value. Gordon bought the ninety acres
with a house and two garages for $70,000 and Bruce and
Linda joined them six months later.
The community was named Sirius, after the brightest
star in the sky, considered by some to be the source of love
and wisdom for our planet. Sirius aims to honor the
highest principles common to all s acred traditions from
Native American to New Age, from western mystery
schools to eastern traditions, and everything in between,
This spirituality is manifested through attunements
before meetings and events, communion with nature in
their gardens, full-moon meditations, yoga and Chi Rung
in the Community Center, rituals at the Stone Circle and
more.

Today, there are about 30 residents (a mix of members,


exploring members, guests and renters) and another 150
would identify as members of the wider community
known as Hearthstone Village (named in honor of seven
Native American longhouse hearths in the area). And
several thousand people visit Sirius each year for their bi
weekly Open Houses, monthly Work Exchange
Weekends, seasonal holiday meals, cob oven pizza parties,
and educational programs that range from permaculture
to herbal medicine to spiritual book clubs. There are also

'Rota lunches and dinners most days where people cook

and share vegetarian, local, organic meals, often with food


grown in Siriuss gardens and greenhouses,

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Buildinggreen andenergy-wise:gardeningandharvestingsolar
energy in homes,

Like most communities, Sirius strives to balance a variety


of needs and values. For example, while members choose
their own diet, the community kitchen is strictly
vegetarian. Decisions are made by consensus in Thursday
Night Meetings, but there is also a Core Group that has
authority around the communitys membership,
finances, and purpose and direction. Anyone can
challenge a Core Group decision in which case it is

discussed in the general meetings (often at length) and


then brought back to the Core Group for reconsideration,
And, of course, things don't always work perfectly,
especially in the early years when there were major
conflicts between members, not least between Bruce and
Gordon,

Like cleaning potatoes...


Monique and 1 moved across the road after a few years
living at Sirius, when it became too challenging to juggle
community, family and professional obligations. We
began to notice and identify more with wider community
members, many who had left for similar reasons. It's
quite common for ecovillages to develop in this way as
they become more mature and stable. But it can also be a
challenge to expand their psychological 'bubbles' and
maintain strong relationships with ex-members and
others who choose to live near but not in the community,
In an effort to bridge this gap, we started weekly
Hearthstone Kitchen meals at Sirius, which drew
hundreds of locals and ex-members of Sirius back, some
for the first time in years, Sirius also completed their
public sauna in 200S, which is a wonderful place to melt
old conflicts. It's a bit like the Japanese method of cleaning
potatoes by putting them into a pot of water and stirring.
By rubbing against each other in community, we tend to
become a bit softer and less edgy overtime,
Bruce suffered a major accident in 2010 while felling a

tree and he andLinda have been slowly transitioning out

of leadership in recent years. Fortunately, there is a solid


group of members who are committed to growing
themselves spiritually and expanding the community
physically and socially Several youth have been very
active in the development of NextGEN, both in North
America and internationally. And, in addition to the
current windmills, photovoltaic arrays and ecological
buildings (made of local timberframes, straw bales and
cob), members are talking about creating a new guest
lodge, a meditation space, new educational programs and
possibly purchasing some adjoining property.

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A main impetus ofSirius ecovillage is trainingforyouth, including


NextGEN,

Sirius will continue to thrive, not only because of its


competent and committed membership, but also because
it is on the leading edge of where humanity is heading, it
is easy to view ecovillages as eccentric, marginal and
irrelevant to our dominant mainstream cultures, but if we
step back, it becomes clear that it is our industrialised
societies that are doomed to failure as short, yet
dramatic chapters in our planets history. For 99.9% of our
evolutionary history, humans lived in tribes. We are

hardwired for community and for belonging to each other


and our natural world, Sirius and other ecovillages are
rekindling this deep need and knowing and they are
helping us create new cultures and new stories in which
we can truly experience our interbeing-ness, with each
other and all life,
www.sinuscommunity,org

Keyword for Solution Library:


Earth Deeds measuring carbon footprints and funding
sustainability projects
solution.eco village, org

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The Edge Effect


Ecovillage Ithaca / USA
Ecovillage lthacaf founded in 1991, is the largest
ecovillage in the United States. Its 3 co-housing
neighborhoods and 3 organic farms show university
students and the mainstream public that the American
way of life can be changed in small but significant ways,
to enable people to live with more social and ecological
sustainability. Liz Walker is one of the founders of
Ecovillage Ithaca,

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Liz Walker
In 1990 1 helped my colleague Joan Bokaer organize an
environmental peace walk across the United States, My
family and 1 joined 150 people from 6 different nations

including Native Americans, During the Walk we


travelled 3,000 miles across the US, starting in LA and
ending up in NYC, On the way we planted trees, helped to
start recycling programmes and met with school children,
local businesses and churches. And in the middle of the
walk my marriage fell apart. Painful as it was, my
husband and 1 both decided to stay on with our two boys,
then 4 and 7 years old. The walk taught all of us a

tremendous amount about empowerment, persistence


and patience, going through crises and the value of
support, while walking 15 to 20 miles a day. We all felt;
"Wow, if we can do this, we can do anything,
On the walk, Joan started dreaming about creating an
ongoing community, and 6 months later she called and
asked if 1 would like to help organize an ecovillage in
Ithaca, It was an exciting idea, and after meditating 1 got a
clear message that this is what 1 was meant to do. So, 1 left
my home of 15 years in San Francisco and moved to
Ithaca as a new single parent.
Ithaca is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of
New York State, with lakes, rolling hills and lots of farms,
Home to Cornell University, it is well known for its
environmental concern. We had heard about other
ecovillages starting around the world and chose the term
'ecovillage so that we were seen to be part of this global
network.
In June, 1991, we had a 5-day retreat to envision what
we could create together, 100 people camped out under the
stars by Cayuga Lake, At the beginning the retreat was a
little rocky Joan had done the most thinking about the
project and it was clear that people did not want to follow
a leader. They wanted to be working together as a team,
There was tremendous energy. As the facilitator 1 felt like
a surfer, riding the wave of excitement. We broke into
small teams to start planning farms, buildings and

educational programs. At the end of the five days, people


didnt want to go home.

BuyingLand, Design and Construction


We looked for land with good farming potential, and close
to the city so that we could open to visitors.

The piece of
land we chose was 175 acres, 2 miles from downtown

Ithaca,

We created a non-profit organization affiliated with

Cornell University,
Joan and 1 were working long hours andhad dozens of
volunteers. Together we raised US$400,000, just by
calling people and asking: "Would you like to invest in
this vision?" 1 was amazed at the response. We used these
loans to purchase the land on the Summer Solstice in
1992, exactly one year after the Envisioning Retreat, That
night we camped out on the land,
We then spent a year in an intensive planning process
with Cornell professors, graduate students, housewives,
architects, ecologists,., anybody who was interested got
involved. Together we created a 10-page document, The
Guidelinesfor Development, with sections on land and
water use, neighborhoods, green buildings,
transportation, farming and energy guidelines,
In 1996 we started building our first co-housing
neighborhood. None of us had ever seen a co-housing
community before. In November, my new partner, Jared,
myself and the kids moved in along with 8 other families,

Half of the homes were still under construction. We had


an Open House with lots of visitors. That very evening a
huge fire burned 8 of the homes to the ground as well as
the Common House. Luckily no one was hurt, but it was a
huge set-back.
The fire was shocking and at the same time our
community really pulled together and people helped each
other out. With the insurance money we were able to pay
for the cost of rebuilding. Nine months later we finished
the neighborhood and everyone moved in,
Today we have 3 neighborhoods, and each has its own
story. In 2015, with 100 homes our neighborhood
development is complete.

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Community-Supported Agriculture
We have 3 organic farms on site, a very important part of
our overall vision and mission. We use CSA (CommunitySupported Agriculture) in which consumers pay the

farmers at the beginning of the growing season, then get a


weekly share of the harvest. Our first farm, West Haven
Farm, has 11 acres and feeds 1,000 people during the
season. Our second farm is 5 acres and is also run by a
resident. Its a U-Pick berry farm, which has delicious

strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and more.


However it can be challenging as people need time to pick
the berries,
Our third farm is part of our educational work. In the
United States most farmers are 60 years old or more,
which is very scary, 1 wonder whats going to happen to
our food system in another 10 years. We are training
young people to farm. Our incubator farm is 10 acres and
is set aside for start-up farm businesses, especially for
low-income people who would not otherwise have access
to land,

Each neighborhood has one or two community gardens


for the residents to use. Most of us like to grow some of our
own food,

A New Paradigm of Land-Use


In the US, developers typically build one house per acre
with lots of roads and garages, using 90% of the land and
leaving 10% as natural areas. We wanted to demonstrate
that you can build on just 10% and leave 90% of the land
for natural areas and farming. We had to get special
zoning that allows houses to be only 5 feet apart. Our
homes are very tightly clustered and the pedestrian
streets create a beautiful park-like setting with fruit trees,
picnic tables and childrens play space,
The co-housing model is a great way of balancing

privacy and community. People have privacy within their


homes. W hen they want a sense of community they just

walk out of their door and there are plenty of kids playing
and people to interact with. We have community meals
for the neighborhood or village 3 times a week, and many
parties and celebrations,
We also have several meetings for making decisions
together by consensus. There is sharing, camaraderie and,
as can be expected, also some conflict. We have had a lot
of interest from researchers, from the public, national and
international media and students. We are having an
influence way beyond anything that 1 could have
imagined back in 1991.

Regional andNational Action


We have helped to catalyze a dialogue in the region,

mainly through our educational work with colleges and


universities. In 2002 we were approached by Ithaca
College's professors who asked us to write a grant
application with them, to teach courses on 'the science of
sustainability'. Together we received a National Science
Foundation grant, which helped fund our educational
work for 3 years. It was a huge learning experience both
for Ithaca College and for EcoVillage Ithaca,
In ecology there is something known as the 'edge
effect'; that's when two ecosystems come together such as
the ocean and the shore, or the forest and the field. It is in
this intersection that most species live and most
biological action takes place, and that's how we felt in our
interactions with Ithaca College. We, as grassroots

activists, were stimulating Ithaca College to think very


differently about their programs and helping their
students to actively participate in sustainability practices,
It also helped our residents to get better at teaching and to
learn more about how to work with young people. It was a
profound mutual learning. The college even got a national
award for cutting edge sustainability programs,

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Cooperating With Urban Planners


We had had 20 years of creating and caring for EcoVillage

Ithaca and we wondered whether there was a way to pass


on what we had learnt to other ecovillage developers
around the country. To this end, we were invited by the
Tompkins County Planning Department to partner with
them in asking for a grant from the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to promote our ideas as a Climate
Showcase Community, We received the grant, and this
has funded our educational work for almost 4 years,
It has been a fascinating process, working with
planners, local architects and builders. Our third
neighborhood here at the EcoVillage is called TREE
ThirdResidential EcoVillage Experience, with extremely
energy efficient homes, some at the German Passive
House standard. There are only 84 of these buildings in
the whole of the US and 7 of those are in our third
neighborhood. Some of the homes are at Net Zero,
producing more energy than they use. In our cold climate
that's really s omething, and we s howed that it doesn't cost
much more than standard construction methods.
W e are part of a county wide effort to try to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. In the
US that is radical! TREE homes demonstrate that a wellbuilt house with solar panels can reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by 9 3 - 100% compared to other homes in the
county. The Planning Department is taking that seriously
and figuring out what laws need to be changed to promote
this kind of development,

Sustainability inPractice
W e continue trying to unravel next steps on how to take
this way of living and expand it to more places, to people
of different income ranges, and to different locations

including the city, country and the edge of cities. When 1


say "we",Imean the project team of county planners,
architects and builders. Five of us have worked very
closely together for the last 3 years and spoken at many
conferences around the country. This model is different
enough to be interesting, but not too threatening. It is
fascinating to see how change can happen when people
get excited about the principles and the values and see
that there are real examples of people living this way. So
they know it can be done and that gives them momentum
to try it in their communities. They wont necessarily try
everything, but they might experiment. Its another
example of the 'edge effect, There is a great deal of
aliveness in this intersection between local government,
local business, and grassroots groups like our ecovillage, A
lot can be learnt from one another!
Its a real privilege to live in a close-knit community
like ours. It's not always easy; there are 240 people of all
ages and everyone has an opinion. But this way of life
builds in great resilience we learn to listen to each other
and respect those that have the most practical
suggestions. And we inspire each other to learn new
things all the time. Its a very dynamic place to live and

learn,

Keywords for Solution Library;


Densely Clustered Housing living closely together in
order to leave more natural spaces
Co-housing Village augmenting private homes with
shared community facilities
CSA Farming creating supportive relationships between
growers and consumers of agricultural products
solution.eco village, org

Four Decades On
The Farm / Tennessee, USA
In 1971, a caravan of 60 brightly painted school buses and
an assortment of other vehicles carrying more than 300

hippie idealists landed on an abandoned farm in central


Tennessee, They had a mission: to be part of something
bigger than themselves, to follow a peaceful and spiritual
path, and to make a difference in the world, Albert Bates, a
former environmental rights lawyer, has lived at The
Farm for the past 40 years. He became a co-recipient of the
Right Livelihood Award for his work with The Farms
relief and development agency, Plenty International, He
also served as President of GEN for several years,

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AlbertBates

Albert Bates
The year 1 left my parents' home and ventured out into the
world, Bob Dylan released his BringingIt AllBack Home
album, singing about the hypocrisies of our allenveloping consumer civilization, making an appeal to
throw sand in the gears and to choose something better,
"Dont go along, he sang, fT mean no harm nor put fault /
On anyone that lives in a vault / But its alright, Ma, if 1

can't please him.


For me, like millions in the post-war Baby Boom, it was

good advice. We were not our parents' generation, those


described by President Kennedy as tempered by war and
disciplined by a hard and bitter peace. We were a
generation that came of age in peacetime, to the beat of
rock 'n' roll and surf music. We challenged racial
inequality and stood for women's' rights. Behind our
parents' backs we sampled the liberation of The Pill' and
the forbidden fruits of psychedelic sacraments. We were
not inclined towards aggregations of material possessions
or dominance over nature. We marched for peace, honesty
and justice; left our universities and the allure of whitecollar jobs to become nomads; questioned everything and
everyone. They called us 'hippies', a word that came from
jazz 'hip' was brought to this country though the West
African Wolof language word 'hepicat', which means 'one
who has his eyes open.'

What are Hippies?


In a 1986 interview in The Sun, The Farm's founder,
Stephen Gaskin, said, "You've got to be a rich country to

have hippies. They're a free, privileged scholar class that


can study what they want. They're like young princelings.
It's really been an upscale movement, in a way, except for
when it broke through. And when it broke through was
when it was the most revolutionary and really scared the
Establishment, because hippies bond across cultural,

religious, and class lines,

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Ronald Reagan described a hippie as a person who


"dresses like Tarzan, has hair like Jane, and smells like
Cheeta". Even today popular culture stereotypes hippies as
long-haired, unwashed, unkempt drug users with leftist
political leanings,
Those who moved to The Farm did so because of shared
values and visions. They wanted common land that was
jointly owned and managed, where they could live
together, through mutual support, and live off the energy
flows (soil, sun, water, animal cycles) nature provided,
They wanted a place where they could build and sustain a
village economy; where people exchanged basic goods and

services with each other and the surrounding region,


These are not lofty goals, until you place them against the
background of rapid climate change, energy descent, a
debt-based economic system breaching biophysical and
ethical limits, and a militaristic national security state
that is beginning to resemble Germany in 1933, except
with weapons that were only in the pages of science
fiction magazines back then.

In 1971, a caravan of 60 schoolbuses with more than 300 hippie

idealists took off tofoundone of thefirst ecovillages,

A Tight-knit Community

Our idea of a close-knit community is one where any child


can reach for an adults hand without being concerned
which adult it is. If one neighbor has a dispute with

another, it does not come to an angry exchange, but is


resolved rationally, whether through mutual respect or
amicable mediation by friends. No-one need fear loss of
support, loss of friendship, or sudden calamity because
within these borders there is this web of kinship, the
invisible glue that binds us, that is strong and resilient,
The Farm was determined to work the intricacies of the
national legal and tax systems not by dodging inspectors
but by meeting or exceeding every code requirement. Its
small alternative school received no support from the
state or local government but today has grown to be a hub
for home school networks in the region, with an
enrollment of over 1,000 students per yean The clinic and
dispensary, whose midwives were considered outlaws at
first, provide a standard of care in many ways superior to
the national medical system, with its own licensed
physician assistants, paramedics, and midwives. We have
an ecology of businesses which use virtually every type of
organizational structure and we now sell many of our
products electronic instruments, tempeh and
mushroom starter kits, books and new media beyond
our bioregion, into the global marketplace.

A Cooler Place
In the early days we soldered solar cells onto metal cookie

baking sheets to make enough power to hear our own


music on our own low power community radio station.
Today we are selling power to the national grid whenever
the sun shines. Our biochar from bamboo kilns,
keylined fields and hardwood forests net sequesters 5
times the greenhouse gas footprint of all our residences,
businesses and visitors each year. The Farm is a cool
place, one that cools the planet.
Whether you are studying the origins of personal
computers and the internet, are a cancer patient grateful
for medical marijuana, or are a concerned
environmentalist thinking about what needs to happen in
the next decades if we are to survive on a hot, crowded
planet, you have to admit the hippies were right. They
were right about peace, love, solar energy, civil rights, free
speech, meditation, yoga, homebrew computers and
backyard organic gardens. The hippies did more than
make great music; they pioneered bioregionalism,
permaculture and ecovillages.
The Farm is one of the better known icons of the 1960s'
hippie culture. We are now four decades on the land and
four generations. The first generation was not the 320
flower-children that arrived in Tennessee from San
Francisco in painted schoolbuses and V W vans, but their
parents, who began trickling in 10 years later when they
saw what a good thing their kids had going.
The second generation, the pioneers, gave birth to a

third generation in the back of blocked-up buses,


homespun yurts, rough-hewn shacks and tar-papered
geodesic domes. Those children then gave birth to a fourth
generation, children born to the children born to the land
and to the guiding philosophy, often with assistance from
the same midwives who coached their grandmothers,
In all of the non-violent revolutions around the world
today there are common goals that are not difficult to
comprehend or appreciate. In each case there is a desire to
create a new society. If the change were to be
accomplished with violence, it would become a mostly
futile gesture; moving the furniture around, as Stephen
Gaskin often said Accomplished without violence, the act
of birth can express the greater devotion to higher values
we wish to instill,
The legacy the hippies gave The Farm, and the larger
culture, was this; Stephen, who passed away in 2014,
used to say, there is no Farm, meaning its important to
remember to keep it in your mind and not forget/that it is
not he or she or them or it/you belong to" (Bob Dylan),
Youre not part of anything or anyone and nobody owns
you. You are you. Now do something with it.

Challenges WeFace Today


On a cold winters day some hundred voting members
take refuge from the freezing rain to gather in the Farms
Community Center to attend our Quarterly Meeting.

Looking past reports by the membership committee,

housing committee, water manager and others,Ican see


where our tensions and challenges inevitably arise. Weve
had another jump in property tax, something we can
expect to see more of as Washingtons military
adventurism bleeds resources from the periphery to the
centre.
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For us, the taxes raise a barrier to young people, who often
come to us already shouldering debt burdens from

student loans and a lack of medical insurance. We dont


like to turn them away, but the reality is if they cannot
find a paying job in our rural location, they wont be able
to pay the monthly assessments we ask of all Farm

atmosphere, oceans, rainforests and original instructions,


For the next generation, and the one after it, and the
one after that, the world will be a vastly different place
than it was for me. When 1 show someone how to make
biochar, brew compost tea or lay a keyline across a valley,
1 am showing them what they can do that will be different
and that might just give their children something better,
When people come to my village and see our process of
consensus, our reverence for the sacred, our healthy diet
and unwavering devotion to social activism in the greater
world, we hope they still become inspired to do something
similar.
Ecovillages arise from a concatenation of causes, but
first among them is hope for the future and a willingness
to act to make that real,
www, thefarm,org

Keywords for Solution Library:


Biochar from Bamboo kilns sequestering C02 while
rebuilding humus layers
Keyline Fields harvesting rainwater following contour
lines Compost Tea producing liquid manure from
organic waste
solution.eco village, org

Getting to the Source


The Source / Jamaica
The Source Farm, Foundation and Learning Village is
a multicultural, intergenerational ecovillage, located in
Johns Town in the parish of St, Thomas, Jamaica, Its
ecological mission and vision is to respect natural life, its
systems and processes preserving wildlife and
botanical habitat, and creating a lifestyle that regenerates
rather than diminishes the integrity of the source farm
environment, Nicola Shirley-Phillips, 47, is one of the
founders,

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Ecovillage life is a healthy way togrow up.

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Nicola Shirley-Phillips
How doItell the story of The Source? There is a politically
correct story we tell our visitors and this is what you will

find on our website. However, the deeper story is full of


magic. If you want a 'cleaner version you can visit our
website. If you want to hear what really happened, read
on,

1 feel that The Source started before my birth, before


my mothers birth and her mothers. Each generation and
each experience is the building block of the sum of our
reality. 1 guess 1 need to start somewhere in this
continuum. So 1 will start with a consultation by a
traditional African Akan priest in Philadelphia, Here 1
was, very nervous, a Jamaican and Catholic, doing
something that was taboo in my circles,
The session turned my world upside down. Most
importantly, 1 was told that 1 would be part of a group
starting a village, and that 1 would be living in that village
by 2010, This consultation happened in September 1999.
After that meeting, 1 went home, had a good cry and
promptly forgot about the whole thing; it was too crazy
and out of my realm of understanding,

Jamaica Returns* * *
1 lived in Philadelphia, owned 2 busy restaurants and had
no clue about villages or intentional communities. For the
next 5 years, 1 catered for and managed the restaurants

and built up a number of development projects in the


larger community. All the while, 1 was feeling unfulfilled,
During this period, 1 started to have many dreams .
My mother had three children and moved us to the
United States when she divorced our father. All three of
her children graduated from schools in the US with
Bachelor and Masters degrees and, as they say in Jamaica,
'threw a stone behind us5 meaning we had no intention
of going back to Jamaica except for vacations. However,
my outlook on life began to change. WhenImet a group of
Jamaican professors in Philadelphia whose mission it was
to develop service learning projects in Jamaica, 1 joined
them and started to bring groups of students to Jamaica,
more specifically to the parish of St. Thomas,
St, Thomas is the neighboring parish to Kingston, the
capital of Jamaica, It is well known for the Rebellion of
1S65 and has never recovered from the fact that the newly
emancipated Africans dared to stand up to the British
Crown, Since that time, it has been continually overlooked
and underrepresented in terms of educational, financial
and social welfare for its citizens. On one of these trips to
St, Thomas, my mother mentioned to a friend that she
was looking for 3-6 acres of land. Upon our return to the
US, the friend called us and told us of a 63 acre property
with a stream, small storage structure and stone water
tank. My mother convinced me to fly back and take a look,
The land was all she was dreaming of and we could just

afford the price if we all contributed. Mom put down a


deposit and got a mortgage; we all split the mortgage and
paid it monthly, (The mortgage is now paid off,)
During this time, 1 was having more powerful dreams,
luring me back to Jamaica, The ancestors were working
hard, 1 was also at a point in my life whenI was sick of the
restaurant business. The restaurant had been depicted in
a bestselling book, InHer Shoes, which had been turned
into a Twentieth Century Fox Production starring
Cameron Diaz, Tony Collette and Shirley Maclaine, My
small oasis had turnedinto a hugely successful, hip spot
that 1 wanted to run away from. However, my dreams told
me that 1 could not yet leave. There was something else for
me to do in the US, 1 was encouraged to get my Masters
degree in Community Economic Development. 1 listened
and took on the challenge.
Sometimes 1 can be very dense! Buying 63 acres of land
did not remind me of my consultation with the Akan
priest and the message about starting a village. It was
only when coming back to Jamaica and working to
establish a Sewing Cooperative for Teen Mothers for my
Masters thesis that it dawned on me. Each time 1 went to
Jamaica, 1 took someone along, 1 would visit the land to
ensure that all was well. Each friend who accompanied
me shared their wish to stay: there are breathtaking views
of the Caribbean Sea and lush foliage. After many such
conversations we realized that we were being asked to

create a village. We had no idea what it meant or how to


do this, A family friend had been to a few 'intentional

communities for natural building workshops and


retreats; he mentioned words like ecovillage, sustainable
living, natural building and ecological stewardship. We
learned that a subculture had been growing for years that
could provide us with guidelines, books, workshops and
consultants. We all got busy doing research, going on site
visits to various intentional communities and looking at
best practices and models,

Earthaven's Contribution
In 2006, we visitedEarthaven in North Carolina and met
Diana Leafe Christian, who authored 2 books and tons of
articles on intentional communities. We read the books
and took in all the information we could find. We began
meetings with our interested friends, and very soon we
came up against challenges because people could not see
how they could afford to move to Jamaica and build a new
life there. We invitedDiana to help us navigate these
challenges and assist us with specific action-steps to
create structure and harmony in moving forward. She
also recommended that we bring a permaculturistto help
us map and design the village. Chuck Marsh, a founding
member of Earthaven was selected. He visited, fell in love
with Jamaica and is currently a member of The Source,
Once we had our permaculture design and formal
consensus process in place, and with ongoing assistance

from the ancestors, we embarked upon creating The


Source Farm Foundation and Ecovillage,

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Everybody is helping to buildthegreen houses of The Source.

The Source's Magic


1 have been telling this story through my eyes and my
experience, 1 can tell you that The Source has saved my
life. EverythingIhave ever wanted to do is right here in
this project on the land. Vision, energy and creative
potential abound in this place. People are inspired,
electrified and moved to action. The ancestors have
allowed us to create a canvas for others to paint on and
develop their mission and vision for their life,
My mother and siblings can tell their own story about
how The Source saved them. My brother became
unemployed after the 200S housing crash. He decided to
move his family to Jamaica and is now our resident
farmer on the land. He got his degree in Education and
Design but always had a love of farming. Now, hes finally
able to support his family and pursue his passion.
People come to visit us and never want to leave. This is
what The Source does. The land holds them and the spirit
of the land nurtures them. People who come to this
demonstration village learn so much and are amazed that
we, as a network of extended family and friends, can work
and live together. We have created community kitchens, a
nature school, off-the-grid living, an organic farm, the
natural dye collective with local community women, a
Farmers Market in Kingston, the Taino Camp, a Summer
Literacy and Art Program, a Sunday Dinner Project, the
Jamaica Sustainable Farm Enterprise Program (that just

got funded by USAID) and many community development


projects within St. Thomas, This work is daunting and we

enjoy every minute of it.

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EarthbagHouses are a cheap andecological way to build'

Core of the Community


In this moment, our core group consists of 13 families.
Each family has their own home using earthbag
construction. We all have a community kitchen and pool
our resources to hire a part-time cook. We eat together,
but not for every meal. We use formal consensus as
decision-making and the IChingtohelp us. We have
monthly work parties, we assist on the farm and we

support each other to be creatively involved in projects


that are overlapping. We have a community school and
each person teaches 1-2 hours weekly,
Here are some of the lessons that we have already
learnt;

* Feel free to say 'no to potential new members,


* The immediate community may take a while to warm
*
*

up and understand what you are doing. Keep focussed,


Keep to your community agreements,
Ensure that people are In Love with the concept of living
together, for you will need this energy to weather the
storms.

*
*
*
*

Try out the best practices that are available to you

experience is the best teacher,


Design, Design and Redesign,
Spend money on a professional whounderstands land
planning it will save you in the long run,
Remember not to take things too seriously,
Always honor the folks that came before you and
remember there is a lot of unemployment in the spirit
world you can put them to work on your behalf,

As we are a young community, over the past S years we

have been listening and learning. For Jamaicans and


people of African descent, first emerging from slavery and
then from an enslaving system, working and living
together in community is a huge thing. Demonstrating

that we can do this and pool our resources is what many


people are amazed at. Weve worked through challenges
together. We have been blessed in having some of the best
consultants and experts to guide us. Many people come to
The Source andmarvel at the infrastructure that weve
built, but often dont notice the inner work and
interpersonal aspects that make this possible. We choose
to work for a larger purpose. We are a young community,
ever evolving and co-creating. We cant wait to see how
The Source is developed by the next generation, 1 have
learned to listen and have faith, work the edges and trust
in the ancestors,

Keywords for Solution Library:


Community Schools allowing children to learn within
their social environment
Earth Bag Houses building low-cost housing from local
materials
solution,eco village, org

Ordinary People Doing


Extraordinary Things
Earthaven Ecovillage / Southern
Appalachians, USA
Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest
setting near Asheville, North Carolina. It is dedicated to
caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and
demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture, "Were just
ordinary people, trying to do extraordinary things", said
Earthaven cofounder Chuck Marsh. Diana Leafe Christian
is a long-term member,

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Diana Leafe Christian


1 joined Earthaven Ecovillage in western North Carolina

because of the beauty of its mountain forest setting, its


ecovillage vision and its people. At Earthaven we live in

passive-solar, earth-plastered dwellings with solar panels


for electricity and metal roofs for roof-water catchment,
Everyone has composting toilets. We offer workshops on
permaculture design, natural building, and other aspects
of ecological and social sustainability. Walking through
the forest, people who take our tours see dappled sunlight
and ferns on the forest floor, and hear birdsong, frogs and
the babbling of streams. Unlike most parts of the eastern
US, we have abundant water and abundant sunlight. To
me, its paradise,
Em especially interested in how people successfully
start new ecovillages, and how they resolve conflicts that
can arise when people have widely different assumptions
about the purpose of their community and even appear to
be in different paradigms about it. So Ill describe
Earthavens founding, the differences over the years
between its older and younger members, and how its
younger members have taken the initiative to resolve
these in ways that give me hope,

Earthaven's Beginnings
Earthaven began in 1994 when IS founders, including
three permaculture designers, bought 320 acres in the
mountains. After doing a topographical survey and
exploring the property, they created a permaculture-based
Site Plan, including future agriculture fields and orchards,
a village centre, residential neighborhoods on gentle
south-facing slopes, sacred sites, bridges and roads. They

then began clearing forest and building roads,


The group was vulnerable to foreclosure by the ownerfinancers losing the property if they didnt have enough
new members with joining fees each year to make the
mortgage payments. So they borrowed money from
members, friends, and neighbors to create the
'Earthshares Fund, which they used to pay the mortgage
when they didnt have enough money from the joining
fees. In 2004 Earthaven paid off the owner-financers; and
in 2006 paid off the Earthshares lenders,
In our early years the two other challenges were the
lack of homes people lived in tents, canvas yurts, and
camper shells and the lack of onsite jobs. To address
these problems, in the late 1990s several young men
began the Forestry Co-op, a cooperatively owned business
practising sustainable forestry, sustainable saw-milling,
and building passive-solar homes for members. They
borrowed money and bought chainsaws, a portable
sawmill and carpentry tools. They taught themselves
forestry, sawmilling and building construction; and
paying themselves barely minimum wages, they leapt
into this new field to meet our needs for jobs and housing,
One often heard the sounds of chainsaws, sawmills, table
saws and power hammers, as serious home-building was
continuously underway in at least one or more
neighborhoods. However, despite the many homes that
they built over the years, the Forestry Co-op struggled

financially. After six and a half years of barely breaking


even and sometimes going for weeks with no pay, they
disbanded the business. While this was sad for many, it
also resulted in several young members having solid
income-earning skills, from carpentry and home-building
to electrical work, off-grid solar design and installation,
water and propane plumbing, and sustainable forestry,
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AndyBosley andJulieMcMahon of YellowrootFarm, a biodynamic


CSA farm atEarthaven,

DifferingInterests

My mom and 1 began visiting regularly in late 2000,


became members in 2002, and built a small house and
moved onsite in 2003, 1 soon joined the Membership and
Promotions committees. One of my first tasks was to help
revise Earthavens website so that it provided the practical

information visitors and potential members needed to


know,

In most ecovillages and intentional communities,


people show neighborly generosity and affection.
However, in the early 2000s there were tensions between
younger and older members about the place of children.
The founders and earliest members had originally
discouraged people with small children because they
wanted new members with enough free time to physically
build the village, and also there was no safe way to deal
with diapers without polluting the streams. As more and
more young people joined and wanted to begin families,
they, and many visitors, reported feeling a distinct 'anti
family vibe at Earthaven, It was so discouraging some
young people left the community. So, several newer
younger members and 1 wrote what we called 'Family
Friendly' proposals to make the community easier for and
more welcoming to families with young children. These
proposals passed after much discussion and negotiation,
Nowadays we have many exuberant toddlers as well as a
few older children and young teens,

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Livingtogether withpeople andplants:One ofEarthhaven 'sgreen


houses,

Other differences involvedEarthavens meeting culture


and decision-making. For example, most founders were
spiritually and ecologically oriented childless people in
their late 40s when they bought the land. They and our
early members were a tight:, emotionally connected group
who valued spiritual practice, their heartfelt visionary
ideals and deep emotional sharing of personal issues in
business meetings. Several members told me this was
how they felt connected to one another. Meetings were
often characterized by strong emotions, including
expressing affection and caring, crying, laughing and

sometimes shouting. Yet many younger members have


been put off by this meeting culture. Many told me that
they didnt want to participate in meetings with people
their parents (or grandparents) age who express strong
emotions when disagreeing on proposals. Instead, the
younger members wanted shorter meetings that focused
on taking the next steps and getting on with the process of
building the village and helping us meet our ecovillage
goals. They say that strong emotional expression does not
make them feel connected to others. Rather, what makes
them feel connected and bonded is a shared sense of
accomplishment in working toward and achieving
community goals, as well as social activities outside of
meetings. They like connection in a positive, high-energy
way that happy feeling of 'We're doing it!

Decision-Making in Earthaven
Also, until relatively recently Earthaven used the form of
consensus which 1 call consensus-with-unanimity,
meaning anyone could block a proposal for any reason,
with no recourse. One of our more controversial topics has
been agriculture; our young farmers and several older
members strongly disagreed about how many fields we
should clear and lease to members for small farms, and
the way in which forest should be sustained. So when
younger members leased and cleared land for their first
few farms in the mid-2000s, several older members were
appalled because the clearing process and the agricultural

practices didnt meet their interpretation of Earthavens


standards for ecological rigor. The farmers had interpreted
Earthavens standards differently and thought they had
met them. So when discussing proposals, especially about
future agriculture, our meetings often became tense
because we all expected someone to block a positive
decision, and sometimes a few older members did,
Between 2007 and 2010 new agriculture at Earthaven was
severely slowed down,
These years were difficult. Because of the way several
older members behaved in meetings and the consensus
process that allowed blocking with no recourse, young
people and a few of us older ones became discouraged and
demoralized. Eventually the younger members stopped
going to business meetings entirely. Several left the
community,
But there was hope. Led by one of our young farmers,
for seven years some of us explored alternative ways to
use consensus and deal with what is sometimes called the
Tyranny of the minority. Between 2012 and 2014
Earthaven cautiously proposed and approved two
incremental changes to our consensus process, designed
to allow us to move forward more effectively in meeting
our ecovillage goals. In mid-20 14 we changed it a third
time radically. We still discuss and modify proposals,
but instead of calling for consensus, we vote. If S5% or
more say Yes to a proposal, it passes; if less than 50% say

Yes, it doesnt. If between 50% and 85% say 'Yes', we hold


a series of meetings between a few members who said
'Yes' and a few who said 'No', in order to create a new
proposal addressing the same issues. If that's not possible,
the first proposal comes back for a 66% percent
supermajority vote. Although a few grieved the loss of the
form of consensus they loved, this last change has made a

huge difference in community well-being.

Moving Forward
Our young people have consistently behaved in ways that

convince me of their consciousness, confidence,


leadership and integrity. Now, in 2015, it seems our
generations have come together again. Two younger
members are raising money through loans from older
members and friends to buy out the buildings and
infrastructure of two departing members; one young
member wants to revive a dormant small farm, and the
other wants to create a cottage industry offering onsite
lodging and dining for visitors. Younger and older
members raised the money for a shared off-grid
renewable power system which will improve the amount
and reliability of electricity in their neighborhood. And
several young parents have created two shared childcare
and home-schooling programs for members and
neighbors children,
Earthaven Ecovillage couldn't have existed and
continued without the energy, vision, and motivation of

its older members who founded the project, designed its


permaculture-based site plan and innovated its
EarthShares Fund And we couldnt have moved forward
with more ease and grace in governance, in built homes,
in creating small farms and starting up new cottage
industries and social enterprises without the vision,
energy, drive and confidence of our young people. Now
Earthaven is thriving again. Visitors love our Saturday
tours and sustainability workshops. Were doing what we
intended all along living meaningful lives in the good
company of friends, and helping educate, encourage and
inspire the mainstream however we can. Visitors come
here, learn from what were doing, and discover that they,
too, might become 'ordinary people doing extraordinary
things.
www,earthaven,org

Keywords for Solution Library:


Consensus Decision Making listening to all the voices
Sociocracy using consent-based decision making inter
linking circles
solution,eco village, org

ASIA
Ecovillages... In Our DNA
Ladakh / India
Helena Norberg-Hodge has been working in Ladakh for
the past 40 years. She is currently working with SO
villages to protect and support their chosen pathways to
sustainability. While these villages have been ecologically
sustainable for many centuries, today they need to
consciously treasure their cultural heritage and combine
traditional and innovative solutions to ensure social and
economic survival. In order to do that they are adapting
ecovillage strategies, Helena Norberg-Hodge is deeply
connected to the localisation movement, and is a founding
member of GEN and recipient of the Right Livelihood
Award,

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Helena Norberg-Hodge
Falling in Love with Ladakh
1 have had my eyes opened to the profound importance of
ecovillages in Ladakh or 'Little Tibet', where 1 have spent
much of my time over the last forty years. It was there
that 1 came to know first-hand the people living in nature

based communities and experienced how their deep


connection to the earth and to others provided them with
an extended, inclusive sense of self In this culture, there
seemed to be no need to retreat behind boundaries of fear

and self-protection.
1 first arrived here in 1975 as part of a documentary
film team when the area was thrown open to
'development' and tourism.. 1 was intending to spend just
6 weeks before returning to my work as a linguist in Paris.
However, the Ladakhis irrepressible joy and contagious
laughter captivated me and 1 decided to stay on to work on
the language after the film was finished,
Over the following years, 1 witnessed dramatic changes
that came about as the region was opened up to 'growth
and development', Ladakh was being submerged in an
avalanche of imported consumer goods, tourism,
westernised schooling, new polluting technologies
including DDT and asbestos. And all the while people were
subjected to media images of a romanticised urban
consumer culture that painted them as backward and
primitive, 1 saw young people who previously had deep
self-respect become confused and demoralised. For young
boys the new role model was Rambo and for the girls
Barbie dolls. Unemployment, self-rejection, poverty and
pollution became commonplace. Community bonds were
eroded as people competed for scarce jobs in the new,
urban, money economy. In 19S9, the psychological and
economic pressures culminated in violent conflict
between Buddhists andMuslims.

Healthy Sources of Energy


As the negative changes escalated in Ladakh, 1 became

even more motivated to do whatI could to present

alternatives to a development path that was, so clearly,


socially and environmentally destructive. First of all, it
was clear that the urbanising development in Ladakh was
based on fossil fuels. The government subsidised the use
of coal, diesel and kerosene and people were starting to use
them to heat their homes in winter. However, Ladakh,
lying high on the Tibetan plateau and with more than 300
days of sunshine a year, was ideally suited to the use of
solar energy. There was also plenty of scope for using
hydro power.
So, 1 began writing letters to the Indian government,
pleading for policies that would build on the strengths of
the traditional culture and promote the use of renewable
energy. And we began a 'Trombe wall project. This
elegantly simple solar technology for heating houses
proved to be ideally suited to Ladakh and was easily
adapted to the traditional architecture and available
materials, A black-painted, south-facing, mud-brick wall
absorbs and stores solar energy; and the rays of the low
winter sun effectively heat the room, while those of the
high summer sun barely touch the wall, keeping the room
cool and comfortable,

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Buildinga Trombe Wail, a solar efficient wail, usingsimple means.

Ladakh Ecological Development Group


These activities attracted the interest of some of Ladakhs
spiritual and political leaders. We launched the Ladakh
Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) together in 19S3,
to demonstrate a whole range of appropriate technologies,
These included solar ovens, water heaters, greenhouses
(which lengthened the growing season by 6 months!),
micro-hydroelectricity installations and the amazing ram
pump7 (made by our own technical staff entirely from
standard plumbing parts), using gravity instead of

imported petroleum to pump water,


LEDeG became the most influential non-governmental
organisation in the region, Indira Gandhi inaugurated our
Ecology Centre in 1984 and this was consecrated by His
Holiness the Dalai Lama, We ended up working in about
80 villages throughout the whole region,
In addition to renewable energy, we developed an
organic agriculture programme. However, its important
to point out that whether in energy or in agriculture, we
were not trying to tell the Ladakhis how to develop
rather, we were demonstrating alternatives to
conventional development. It was dear that people had
almost no information about the materials and changes
that were being pushed on them by outside 'experts5,
People knew nothing about the environmental movement
in the West or the problems and side-effects of everything
from fossil fuels and hybrid seeds to artificial fertilisers
and pesticides like DDT,
The Ladakhis were not only ignorant about our
ecological problems in the West, But as in the rest of the
so-called 'developing' world, the message coming through
conventional development, advertising and media was
that the West was some kind of paradise. It appeared as
though we had lives of constant leisure and incredible
wealth. People literally thought that we did no work!

Reality Tours
We carried out a whole range of educational efforts to

counter these ideas through community meetings,

radio programmes, theatre and workshops in Ladakh. We


also organized 'Reality Tours, sponsoring community
leaders to experience the West for themselves. In this
work, GEN was of central importance. We were able to
highlight examples of people who had come to realise the
emptiness and destructive nature of the urban consumer
culture. The Ladakhis could hear from people about our
spiritual, psychological, ecological and economic
problems. Importantly, through GEN they could also learn
that people were creating more meaningful and
sustainable ways of living. The deeper dialogue between
Westerners and Ladakhis led to the recognition that
Ladakh, like other traditional, land-based communities,
had a lotto offer these Western movements. This in turn
helped young Ladakhis regain greater respect for their
culture.
Not all of these activities were met with appreciation.
From the very beginning, Indian government officials
were convinced thatI was a CIA agent and warned
Ladakhi leaders not to join our efforts. So my husband
John Page (who had joined me after 3 years) and 1 were
under constant surveillance for many years. Another
difficult phase was a period in the 19S0s when young
Ladakhi men, in particular, were actively opposed to our
work. They had become sold on the Rambo/fossil fuel
path and decided that we were not only wasting time with

our renewable energy projects but probably pocketing

millions in the process. Over the years, the most


challenging problem has been the fact that, despite all our
efforts, conventional development has continued to
increase both pollution and unemployment,
Nevertheless, Im happy to report that for the last two
decades support from the Ladakhis has continued to
increase, and despite the unemployment pressures,
relations between Buddhists andMuslims have remained
peaceful. Most importantly, leaders from our ecology
group set up a semi-independent government, with
virtually identical goals to those of LEDeG,

Ecovillages are in our DNA


Over the yearsI came to realise that the Ladakhis joy and
dignity arose from their deep sense of connection with one

another and with the Earth, and that this is how we have
evolved for most of human history. In fact, ecovillages
must be in our DNAl This is why people from all around
the world, who have experienced urban or suburban life,
cut off from others and from nature, develop a yearning to
rebuild their spiritual connections to life.
It also became clear to me that these spiritual
connections were anchored in local economic interactions,
Communities were built on economic ties that fostered a
daily experience of interdependence with others and with
nature. This, in turn, provided a healthy foundation for
individuals to grow and be nurtured, to feel that they

belonged to a people, a culture and their place on earth,


In consumer society, our connections to each other and
to the rest of nature have been largely severed. Large
bureaucracies or businesses mediate almost all our
interactions. In this way, we become dependent on
institutions rather than one another. For example, many
middlemen and hundreds, if not thousands, of miles,
separate the majority of us from the source of our food,
AsIbecame increasingly aware of the importance of
maintaining or rebuilding our local economic structures,I
started speaking about my activities and writing about
the importance of shifting away from dependence on a
distant global economy, and promoted 'decentralisation7
or localisation7 as a systemic alternative.
This led to the setting up of a small international
organisation called the Ladakh Project. In 1991, this seed
grew into the International Society for Ecology and
Culture, which has recently been renamed Local Futures7.
Over the years, we have made films, organised
conferences and lectures, written books and articles, and
led workshops on the multiple benefits of localisation. At
the same time we have been providing information about
the systemic effects of the global economy: from rising
C02 emissions to other forms of pollution, from poverty
and unemployment to an epidemic of fear and depression.
Much of our work over the past four decades has been
about deepening a dialogue between the global North and

global South. As economic 'development sweeps across


the planet, schoolbooks as well as blaring television
commercials carry the message that more traditional,
indigenous ways of life are inferior Westerners have an
important role to play in countering these myths, by
showing how we are seeking to regain the connectedness
that people in less industrialised cultures have not yet
completely lost Sharing experiences across the world can
help us all to make more informed choices and to build a
powerful peoples movement for fundamental change. As
part of this work, we are now spearheading the formation
of the International Alliance for Localisation (1AL),
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theculture ofhappiness andsustainability

Ancient Futures and the Economics of


Happiness
The story of Ladakh has spread far and wide through my
book, AncientFutures,I wrote it after 16 years of
witnessing change, and a few years later we made a film
of the same title. Both film and book have now been
translated into over 40 languages. Our later film 'The
Economics of Happiness' expands the theme at Ancient
FuturesX.o show that communities all around the world
are beginning to demonstrate the multiple spiritual,
social, ecological and even economic benefits of
localisation. The 'Economics of Happiness' has also been
translated into multiple languages and has become
something of a movement in itself! In tiny, far flung
villages from Japan and Korea to Peru and Chile, small
groups huddle in cafes or homes around a laptop while
huge audiences in lecture halls and conferences in the
capital cities of the world hear the story and are inspired
to take meaningful action. The unprecedented reach has
continued to amaze us and it seems that the core message
of our work is starting to achieve a critical mass.
www,localfutures,org

Keywords for Solution Library:

Localisation promoting the renewal of local


communities, economies and cultures
Trombe Wall using passive solar building techniques
Index of Happiness measuring well-being as an
alternative concept of wealth
solution.eco village, org

Ecovillage andDecolonisation
Wongsanit Ashram / Bangkok, Thailand
Pracha is a founder and Narumon a longtime member of
Wongsanit Ashram, a long-term member of the Global
Ecovillage Network, Both are active in a social activism
movement that shares ecovillage awareness and practices
all over South East Asia,

Narumon Paiboonsittikun
My country is changing very fast. In Asian society, we are

expected to be calm and polite, and not to show our


negative feelings. This leads to the situation that we dont
really know who we are. We lack the ability to take
decisions freely. Resulting inner tensions can explode into
violence. Many of my generation are volunteering for
NGOs and goto communities and Ashrams for a while in
order to explore other values and ways of being. In 2000, 1
came to the Wongsanit Ashram. At first, 1 thought it was a
dream. 1 stayed for 5 years, learning about grassroots
democracy. It raised a deep doubt in me: Are we really
living in a democracy in Thailand? 1 found that 35 people,
who have learnt how to really rule their community in a
truthful way, could teach politicians a lot about how to

rule a whole country,

Pracha Hutanuwatr
For me, 'ecovillage* is a radical idea, leading in the opposite

direction of most governments understanding of


'development'. In my part of the world, in South East Asia,
we are facing a new colonisation in the name of
modernisation, development and globalisation. At their
core all these strategies seem to promote the same set of
values: to conquer nature, to compete with each other, to
promote individualism and to reduce the commons. And
this is our challenge as ecovillage activists.

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Southeast Asia is rich with natural resources and has, a
long time ago, already manifested what the term
'ecovillage' describes: sustainability, community, fair
economy and deep cultural values. In a country like
Thailand, after 50 years of adopting an American Way of
Life, the concept of ecovillages necessitates a process of
decolonisation of ideas andhabits. It entails resistance
against technocrats and strategies that destroy nature and

make the poor poorer. After 50 years of 'development' in


Thailand, the villagers own cars and motorcycles, but
everybody is in debt,
And now, in Burma, the window of development is just
opening. And the multinationals are rushing in, putting
pressure on everybody to develop.

Social and Spiritual Activism


My personal path towards ecovillage started in the 1970s
while at university, 1 asked myself: How can 1 spend my
life with more meaning rather than striving for a house
and car? 1 wanted to leave behind the path of the middle
class 1 was born into, 1 became a Marxist in order to
change the world. But after a while 1 found that Marxism
had some weaknesses. One of them was a lack of
knowledge about how to change human behaviour from
the inside. Instead, 1 became a Buddhist monk, 1 had
planned to stay for 2 weeks, but ended up spending 11
years in a monastery,
In university 1 had been part of a group, along with 15
friends and our teacher Sulak Sivaraksa, We were inspired
by Gandhi who used ashrams as places of empowerment
to help liberate the Indian population from British
occupation. When 1 left monkhood in 1986, my teacher
sent me to India to visit Gandhi's ashrams, 1 travelled
from north to south to see the style of the ashrams in their
third generation. Some of them really have become agents
for social change,

Creating an Ashram of engaged Buddhism


In 1990, a friend of our teacher gave us 10 hectares of land
for Wongsanit Ashram, 1.5 hours away from Bangkok.
We explored an original andholistic life, cultivating the
land, fishing, building and living in simple houses,
We were 40 people and drafted some basic rules for
living together according to the Buddhist basic principles,
We experimented with ideas on how to live together, how
to combine individual spiritual life and how to attain
changes in the wider society, following the inspiration of
Gandhi ' s ashram movement in India, A basic principle of
the ashram has been from the beginning to combine
mental work, physical work and meditation. We still
meditate together at least once a week. And we have a
labour day once a month, sometimes every week.
We have no television and no fridge in the ashram. In
the beginning, we strongly believed in participatory
community management, which means reaching every
decision in consensus, sharing power, and through these
processes growing together. We took all decisions together
whether to accept newcomers or not, whether we would
eat together or in families. Today, we still work with
consensus in many cases, but we also learnt that
sometimes it takes too long. Thus, some issues we vote on
by majority and we are also happy to use common sense
and find compromises.

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WongsartitA shramcombines spiritualpractice andsocial


activism.

We are proud of the oasis that we have created on the

site. Lots and lots of trees are growing. Wild animals are
coming in, birds and snakes. Outside the ashram they are
hunted and killed, but here they know that they can live,
Once you run a project, it needs all your attention and
you need to keep finding balance. In 1992, 1 created a
Center for Activism for Social Change as an institution
within the framework of the ashram, to support
community empowerment all over South East Asia, 1 was

its director for 10 years. It has become our connection


with the social movement, combining meditation and
social action. Walking side by side, any action can be
spiritual. We started this, and a lot of activists joined us.
We became part of a paradigm shift all over the country.
Although 1 no longer live at the ashram 1 endeavour to
embody the values in my life and keep up regular contact.

Working in Burma
When 1 got married to Jane Rasbash, a colleague from the
ecovillage of Findhorn, we initiated the Grassroots
Leadership Training Programme (GLT) in Myanmar and
later got involved with Ecovillage Design Education (EDE)
courses and ecovillages. In 1994 we were invited to Burma
by villagers who wanted to start a NGO. Burma at that
time was an intense experience. The villages had no
electricity, we saw many guns in the streets and the
people had a very little freedom. But there was much selfsufficiency and a strong connection between leaders and
young people. Traditions were still very much alive..
Every time we left Burma, it was a relief. However, we
continued to work there for more than 10 years, giving
GLT/EDE courses and trainings. Now the projects have
grown into a huge NGO network, run by our local friends.
We always use five elements in our training: first,
critical understanding of the global situation and the
forces that come into and shape our regions. Secondly, we
share knowledge about ecology and the environmental

situation. Thirdly, we share social solutions, reminding


ourselves how to organise villages in a way that is
grounded in traditions, such as the buffalo bank, the rice
bank and organic farming practices. Then, of course, we
teach meditation a very crucial aspect. In this part of
the world, people are deeply rooted in spiritual practices,
But then they are educated in modern schools, and
uprooted from their culture. We want to reverse that. We
are dreaming of a different kind of education, more
holistic, so that the spiritual aspect becomes a natural
part of life again. The fifth element is capacity building
around management skills learning how to organise an
NGO,

Looking back,Imust say that we have not been able to


change the situation as much as we wanted to,
Increasingly, people were confronted with Western
advertisements, lured to a more consumerist approach
and life has been changing, not always for the better. In
the last two years, Jane, colleagues and 1 have been
working with Metta Development Foundation, a National
Myanmar NGO with intensive eco-leadership training for
middle-management, Metta are now considering how
they can adopt ecovillage strategies for sustainable
development throughout their programmes,

Ecovillage Transition in Thailand and China


Today we are regularly invited to teach in many regions of
Thailand and in Southern China, Yes, many people in

China are also longing for a sustainable lifestyle. We are


sometimes stopped by the police but, still, it is possible to
teach in China,
Our own country, Thailand, is going through deep
change. Since 2003, the society is fractious. We are not
directly involved in any fighting, but we use the situation
to propose changes that go to the root of current issues;
reconnection to nature, spirituality, community building.
After the coup d'etat, our democracy became slightly
stronger, and 1 have become more involved in the
grassroots movement.

One governor from Northern Thailand decided to

transition a whole region into an eco-region, 11 villages


with 5,000 people were involved. We were asked to
redesign the development policy of the whole region. With
our experience we were able to bring academia and village
people together. We formed a bridge between experts and
villagers. Together we created a community master plan
and proposed it to the governor. But then he was forced to
move, to leave the region and become a governor of
another region. And now we have to see whether the next
leader of that area will continue the project. The governor
had promised us 10 million Baht (approximately 250,000
Euro) as payment for the work done, but then he left and
the money could not be transferred. Sadly, corruption is
prevalent,

Water andForest

One of our most important projects is a holistic forest


project. Forests are a very critical topic all over South East
Asia. Forests are burnt, and as a consequence the water
situation becomes a problem. Some districts already have

droughts, and the groundwater table is receding so farms


and households lose access to water. It requires a new
paradigm to consider the renewal of an ecosystem as a
whole. Agriculture was sustainable before development
came to the region, so now we get rice and vegetable
producers together and connect them with traditional and
modern knowledge about organic agriculture and water
management.

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paradise on their site.

Economy
The economic system does not support the development
of ecovillages. The surplus from every village is sucked
out of the region by the banking system. We are thinking
about an alternative ethical bank which is based in the
region to help us to keep the surplus and the money cycles
within the village and region so that local economies can
start thriving again,
Last year, we started to connect the ecovillage work
with the business world to create a Business of Change,
My younger brother started this initiative. His company is
one of the top ones in the country. He got sick and had a
very deep, life-changing crisis. Since he came back to
business, he began opening-up towards spirituality,
trying to change the business world from the inside. The
main aim of his business has expanded instead of only
maximising profit, its aim is to support the people and the
planet,
With ecovillages we don ' t need to follow the Western
development model. We develop in our own way. The
most critical message of ecovillages is: we are good
enough already. We don t have to catch up with the West,
Television and the modern educational system has
brainwashed people and told them that they are only good
enough if they are Westernised, Yes, we will apply
knowledge from the modern world, but this does not
mean that we are not good enough. We are good enough,

even if we dont aim for a career in the high-rise buildings

of Bangkok,

Keywords for Solution Library:


Buffalo Bank, Rice Bank reestablishing traditional
economic systems without money
Spiritual Activism applying spiritual practices and
principles to work for social and environmental justice
solution.eco village\ org

A Gardener in South India


Auroville / India
In South East India, we find one of the worlds most highly

regarded and largest ecovillages; Auroville. Based on the


vision of Sri Aurobindo andMira Alfass a (known as the
'Mother), the 'Universal City was inaugurated in 1968.
Today, more than 2,000 people from over 40 countries live
permanently in Auroville. For 45 years, Joss Brooks has
been working for the ecological restoration of the oncebarren plateau and the reestablishment of the indigenous
tropical forest. He reflects on his journey, and on how
Auroville has shared its experience with the surrounding
Tamil communities and thus has learnt from one of the
seed cultures of the planet, while sharing innovative ideas
from many different societies,

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Joss Brooks
1 grew up in the Island of Tasmania, Until British
colonisation in 1804, one of the most ancient aboriginal

peoples lived harmoniously in a garden of mountains,


grasslands and beaches, which sustained them for over
3 5,000 years. Their rock art reflected their dreaming. The
European invasion destroyed these ancient tribes, and in
1876 the last Tasmanian aboriginal, Queen Truganini,
died,

Years later, the first green political party on the planet


was formed in Tasmania, People protested against the

cutting of old-growth forests and the damming of wild


rivers. They were walking in the footsteps of the
indigenous peoples who had successfully protected the
beauty of nature here for centuries,
After many journeys, 1 found myself in Tamil Nadu,
the garden of the Coromandel Coast in India, Signs of an
earlier environmental harmony were still to be found in
the sacred groves and temple forests where indigenous
plants were protected, 1 heard about a place near
Pondicherry where a vision for a city of the future was
being implemented, a vision that had come through Sri
Aurobindo andMira Alfassa, It was to be a place that
belonged to nobody in particular, a place for humanity as
a whole,

UNESCO and the Indian government supported the

idea, and in February 1968, to symbolise the unity of


humanity, soil from 120 countries was placed in an urn at
the centre of a plateau. When the crowds went home, the
site was left to the hot winds from the Bay of Bengal
Seekers, travellers, and wide-eyed refugees from the
1960s1 student revolutions became the first pioneers that
came to build Auroville,

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Byplantinghundreds of thousands of trees,JossBrooks andhis team

have reforested the area aroundA uroville including the


PitchandikuiamForest

Contact with the Soulof the Forest

The people who were drawn here came from some 30


countries. We built simple huts to live in, our teachers
were farmers and illiterate old ladies, who could relate
stories for hours and knew hundreds of medicinal plants.
In the nearby villages life was hard, yet the age old
patterns and ceremonies reminiscent of past, great
civilisations of southernIndia were still in evidence. Even
today, temple chariots carrying deities are pulled around
the villages at sacred times. The chariots are made of the
same wood as the temple door, and oil pressed from seeds
of the same tree burns brightly in lamps of the inner
sanctum. 500 years ago, poets sang of the animals, birds
and plants of this area and their poems were engraved on
temple walls. Records exist of a Maharaja being stopped
here by a herd of elephants living in dense forests only
200 years ago. So we know of the forest that grew here.
Mirra Alfassa, also called the Mother, who was the
driving force behind the manifestation of Auroville,
advised us to connect to the spirit of the forest; "it hasn't
gone away; a couple of centuries is nothing. This contact
to the spirit is even more important than making
compost, she said, "The invisible beings will help you to
bring back what was there before,
We learnt from the gentle way in which the farmers
move water and channel it into the rice fields. They sing
while working you can't sing to a diesel motor. They
taught us the rhythms of the year. Ceremonies are still

strong in South India. Even bank managers and teachers

still go firewalking at the height of summer, calling the


rains to come,
W e drilled the first wells 150 feet down into the laterite
soil Windmills were erected of wood with cloth sails. We
needed shade to survive the long hot summers. We started
nurseries, and nurtured the newly planted seedlings with
water brought by bullock carts. When the huge monsoon
storms came, the fragile plateau eroded badly. We learned
about the important watershed concept, we learned that
we all live downstream. The sea turned red with the soil
as the very foundations of our future township were being
washed away. We initiated the healing process:
thousands of kilometers of bunds and levees were made
across the landscape. Tropical rains need to stay on the
land, and soak in to replenish the water table! We made
sure dams were built in gullies.
As ground-cover slowly emerged, birds brought seeds
and the indigenous flora started to reappear. We mapped
the small remnants of original forest in the region, most of
it found in the form of temple groves protected by the
statues of the local gods and saints. We collected seeds
and learnt germination techniques. Through research we
understood that the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest was the
most endangered forest type in India. The work in the last
decades has been to re-establish 1,000 acres of protected
forest as part of the Auroville greenbelt, and to work on

projects to bring back this vegetation along the


Coromandel Coast. Now Auroville is swathed in a diverse
green garment,

Work in the Region


We worked with the people of our watershed to help

document their knowledge of the natural resources,


particularly tapping into the wisdom of traditional
healers. Indigenous knowledge about the animals,
vegetables, minerals, traditional technologies and
medicinal plants constitutes some of the most precious
wealth of a nation.Medicinal forests were established;
womens groups made traditional herbal medicines for
ethno-veterinary treatment camps, and the cows and
goats grew healthier,

Thirty kilometers from Auroville, in order to support


local communities, we adopted a government school with
600 children and four teachers, two trees to give s hade,
and no water and no toilets. W e dug a well, built toilets
and waste water treatment systems incorporating solar
panels and wind mills. The children helped put together
teaching materials about their environment. They wove
their knowledge into stories, poems, plays and puppet
shows and then organised events to share this with the
whole village. The school has improved its pass rates from
10% ten years ago to 75-80% today,
But with this comes another problem: now that the
children are educated, they are all leaving the village! In

rural India, as everywhere else, huge demographic shifts


are taking place due to urban migration. The challenge is
to bring back new energy and enterprises to the rural
sector, so that people dont end up in the slums of Chennai
or Pondicherry, Auroville has a number of answers to this,
and can be a place that inspires solutions for
sustainability, biodiversity and long-term prosperity for
the countryside. Recently the Tamilnadu government has
proposed the creation of a Sustainable LivelihoodInstitute
on the edge of the township, as a collaborative project
based on our holistic approach, with Auroville as its wider
campus,

Alternatives for the City


We were given the opportunity to participate in the
challenges of urban India, Chennai, 100 km north of
Auroville, is a city with 10 million inhabitants,. Its

officials came to us and said, "Would you be willing to


bring the best of Auroville to the middle of Chennai?"
There was a 60 acre wetland full of 50 years of garbage
and building rubble and something had to be done about
it. We didnt look at this as a 60 acre site, but instead saw
it as a watershed of 2 sq, kilometers, and started to involve
the people around it. It took a year to make the plan,
Eventually we moved 60,000 tons of rubbish to more
appropriate places, 200,000 trees of 1S6 indigenous
species were brought from Auroville ' s nurseries.

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Spiritualrituals are stillalive inIndia; andmany trees are considered


sacred,

We restored the whole complex wetland ecology in the

middle of the city. Birds, fish, and crabs returned to the


environment. People now enjoy the wetland trails where,
before, there had only been wasteland. We made it
beautiful, creating spaces with rocks and paintings,
environmental information and opportunities for
relaxing. And we brought examples of our technologies
flow forms, water treatment systems, vortex fountains,
windmills. We wanted to create a place where people
could dream again, a place that is wild, where you can
heal yourself,
These are all examples of hope. But the reality is as
complicated as India is complicated, Auroville essentially

means: people from all over the world mixing with these
incredible Dravidian people, trying to forge a way forward,

What matters most is to see the soul everywhere, in each


possible transformation of matter. Within the soul lies the
memory of the future garden.
www.auro ville.org

Keywords for Solution Library:


Ecorestoration regenerating natural environments
Traditional Knowledge Base preserving local heritage
and wisdom for future generations
solution.eco village, org

The Secret of Community


Narara Ecovillage / Australia
After having been deeply involved in the development of
Findhorn and the Global Ecovillage Network, John Talbott
moved to Australia where he has helped to set up the
emerging Narara Ecovillage,

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John Talbott
After a three year stint as an English major at university, 1
changed to engineering, not having any idea what 1
wanted to do in the world, but pretty sure that Id at least
be able to land some kind of job, 1 was right about that and
spent the first four years after university working for a

large multinational, building oil tankers and railroad cars.


It was a great experience, learning how big corporations
work. But after a couple years 1 knew I'd need something
more meaningful!
It was in 1978 thatI came across a place called
Findhorn and all kinds of internal bells went off Before 1
knew it 1 had moved around the world and joined this
300-strong spiritual community in the north of Scotland.
I'd assumed that Id abandon engineering and work in the
beautiful gardens, blissfully becoming more attuned to
nature. That lasted a couple of weeks before 1 was asked to
help in the maintenance department.
During that first year, the early ideas of ecovillages
emerged: human settlements reflecting the essential
connection to the land, but holding a planetary
consciousness/awareness as well. How to express our
lofty concepts in built environments? 1 spent the next
twenty-four years developing those ideas and helping to
put Findhorn firmly on the ecovillage path. It was an awe
inspiring journey, including helping with the formation of
GEN and serving on the GEN board during the first years.
It was on a trip to Australia in 1996, during a
permaculture event that GEN was participating in, that 1
met my future wife, an Aussie native.

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Narara Ecovillage
In late 2003 my wife and 1 left Findhorn 'for a year,
moving to Sydney to be near her family and take a break,
As so often happens in life, stuff happens: weve been in
Australia ever since. For the last three years 1 have found
myself deeply involved with a new ecovillage, an hour
north of Sydney, Narara Ecovillage, founded by Lyndall
and Dave Parris, began with a realisation that Lyndall had
on her 50']l birthday: that most humans function best and
are happiest when 'in community' living together in

supportive groups, sharing the ups and downs of life. She


soon discovered the ecovillage model was a great fit,
incorporating community, but also ecology, economy and
worldview in a human scale settlement. On her journey
Lyndall put on monthly events, organised outings and
generally created interest in the idea of building an
ecovillage near Sydney, Soon there was a small following
of people keen to help, and their search for the ideal
property began, looking at over one hundred properties
before finding 'the one in 2008.
Owned by the state government, the property had been
a horticultural research station for more than a hundred
years, with many structures already in place. It had been
rezoned for 120 suburban lots, standard suburbia.Modern
planning practice has evolved into a 'keep everything
separated' model, with residential isolated from
commercial, where businesses have to be in Business
Parks, industries in Industrial Parks and retail shops are
in Shopping Centres, and none of them close together,
Ecovillages want to mix it all up, just as traditional
villages did before the advent of the car, with
community's shops, businesses, social activities,
residences all close together, within walking distance
ideally, and for practical reasons also multi-purpose,
multi-use. For example, the village hall hosted meetings
one evening and theatre or music events the next; served
as a creche on weekdays, indoor market on weekends;

commerce happened around the village square during the

day but the same square became the social hub in the
evening. People lived above their shops, or had their
workshops in outbuildings in the back garden,
Given the fairly fundamental differences between
ecovillages and suburbia, it was risky to assume that
what the group wanted would be permitted. In the end,
the group faced a stark choice: either take the risk with an
unconditional offer or let it go. The decision had to be
made in less than three weeks,
The first problem was there was no legal entity in place
to collect funds from prospective community members to
make an offer. The second problem was that no one had
asked the interested people on the mailing list (about 600
at the time) whether they would be willing to actually put
in money. If they were, how much and under what
conditions ? Lastly, there was the added twist that Lyndall,
the one person that everyone knew, happened to be in a
campervan somewhere in the Norwegian fjord country for
a couple of months!!

EcovillageLessonNo.1
The 'ask looked impossible in the time frame. But here is
Ecovillage Lesson No, 1: when the time is right, miracles
happen. And several did happen in those first weeks. Our
only legal structure available was a co-operative, a good fit
philosophically as well. In a record-breaking time of
under two weeks, thanks to a generous lawyer who

offered to do the legal work at no upfront cost, The Narara


Ecovillage Co-operative was born. First and second
miracle, as lawyer working for free should definitely
count!
Next, the mailing list was approached to see if the

critical mass was there. We needed $5m, with a goal of


raising a minimum of 80% in pledges as a measure of
enough commitment. Emails were sent out, a meeting
called and about forty turned up in person and signed
pledges. Over the next ten days more pledges streamed in
and on the day of the deadline of August 1st, 2012 the
target of A$4m was reached!! Third miracle,
A harrowing month long wait ensued before the offer
was formally accepted and suddenly the project was real!

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Called by theLand
1 got involved with Narara very much like the way 1 got
involved with Findhorm While 1 had met Lyndall and
Dave and their team soon after arriving in Australia, 1 was

having a break from 'ecovillages, and starting another


project from scratch just wasnt on the cards. But over the
years we stayed in touch and 1 gave a few talks about
Findhorn and GEN, and even visited the property a few
times once theyd found it,
When the crunch came in early July 2012, with Lyndall

overseas there was literally no one who had the time to

take on this seemingly impossible task, and it looked as


though the window would be missed. On a ferry ride
home, watching the sunset over Sydney Harbour 1 got a
clear 'calf from the land. The forested slopes of Narara
valley appeared, the open spaces of the floodplain, the
views from the hillside, all stunningly beautiful. And 1
had to ask myself whether what was 1 doing was more
important than supporting the materialisation of such a
potentially wonderful project?
The years at Findhorn have been invaluable for me,
Findhorn was twenty years old when we started the
ecovillage project there in the early 80s; the communitys
social, cultural and spiritual 'infrastructure' was well
established. All 1 needed to focus on was the ecology and
economy. With Narara, not only were we doing the
physical master plan, planning and building, we were also
needing to establish the community, the unique culture
and social coherence that would be the 'glue of this future
village. Now, two and a half years later, with our
development applications approved and infrastructure
construction soon to commence, the community is 140
strong and thriving. The ecovillage model is working well
for Narara,

Mainstream Ecovillage
What is particularly significant about Narara is that it's
an ecovillage for the mainstream. This was always an

aspiration of GEN's, recognising that the huge task of


transforming human settlements around the planet had
to apply directly to our Western developed world where
the biggest ecological footprints are generated and the
biggest transformation needed. Ecovillage solutions need
to be transferable to ordinary people to be relevant
Narara is accessible to a major urban centre and
seeking to be an example of integrated mixed-use
sustainable development We've been proactive in
engaging our local neighbours and keeping them
informed of what we're aiming to achieve, something that
we didn't do very well at Findhorn in the early days,
Regular communication, open days, public meetings and
even grapefruit sharing with the abundance of citrus we
had on the land. This had practical benefit as well: we had
less than a handful of objections to our development plans
because locals were well informed and had been given the
opportunity to have their concerns addressed before
hearing about them in the paper. Council was able to give
their approval much faster,
A spin-off from the local engagement has been our
outreach arm, Narara Eco Living Network, Its one-day
festival of sustainability called 'Ecoburbia' is an initiative
to show people how to create ecovillage living in their own
suburb, from renewable energy to building community,
One concern we had was being seen to be building a nice
cozy green enclave that would be isolated from locals,

What we really want to do is promote sustainable living


everywhere, seeing Narara Ecovillage as an opportunity to

demonstrate this and inspire people to apply the


principles in their own homes and neighbourhoods. The
festival was opened by the Mayor of Gosford and had two
and a half thousand people attend, far more than we
expected, but a great indicator that people are really keen
to know more.

EcovillageLessonNo. 2
The time is right and people all over the world are ready
and wanting to know solutions,
Our members are really 'pretty normal for such an outof-the-box development. But we share the belief that
humanity has to change the way we are living on planet
Earth, The commitment to make this project happen has
been awe-inspiring given the high risk weve had to face.
The members are the developers, the funders, the clients
and the future residents. Often, they are also providing
know-how and physical energy to do the work, be it
community-building, or engineering. The collective power
of a diverse group coming together to do something
significant shouldnt be underestimated.

EcovillageLessonNo. 3
Resources are often right in front of you; together, we are
greater than the sum of ourselves as individuals,
Both our professional advisors and the local council

have resonated with the ecovillage vision and have often


gone beyond their remit to help us. The NSW planning
laws are exceptionally complex and we are 'outside the
box in almost every aspect of the regulations, so this
'extra' help has been essential

EcovillageLessonNo. 4
be bold, sound the note,
speak the vision and people with the skills needed will
appear to help it manifest.
Still a year away from house construction and about a
third of the way towards the final target of around 400
residents, well probably need a few more miracles before
were done. But more than anything else what has brought
us together and helped us survive the first years of our
ecovillage creation is the power of community.
No doubt that is what will also carry us forward.

Fortune Favours the Brave

Keywords for Solution Library:


Intergenerational Living creating spaces for young and
old to live together
Bush Care regenerating native flora and fauna

Solutions for a Vulnerable Climate


Zone
Bangladesh
Boniface Subrata, 63, can look back on a life of passionate
and patient dedication to community empowerment in
his country, Bangladesh. Through sheer tenacity of spirit,
he has succeeded in adapting knowledge gained in
ecovillages worldwide to local circumstances, in order to
reduce poverty and increase local climate change
resilience and adaptation. Thus many villages are
integrating ecovillage design processes,

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Boniface Subrata

Early Beginnings
1 was born into the Christian minority of Bangladesh and
originally wanted to become a priest. However, during my
studies, when 1 noticed how luxurious the lives of the
priests were in comparison with the poverty of so many, 1
decided to leave, 1 went to university, and formed a
Bangladeshi Christian Students movement. In that timeI

became known amongst people. They said, "he speaks


little, but speaks well", 1 gained many friends,

After university,I was offered prestigious jobs by


international organisations. But, again,Isaw the same
pattern: the leaders had large houses, while the rest of the
people were poor, 1 called my circles of friends and
teachers, ex-priests and ex-nuns together, and said, "Let
us do something! In Bangladesh hundreds of thousands
are starving! In July 1991, we formed the Bangladesh
Association for Sustainable Development BASD,
We started to work with some of the poorest
communities. Now, looking back after 20 years, these
communities have enough to eat and safe homes. What
we did was simple: we taught them to save money, even
from the little income they had, maybe only 1-2 cents a
week. They had never before learnt to make savings. But
the small amounts would accumulate and eventually
make a crucial change possible. At some point, they would
be able to buy a goat or a little piece of land and then they
could really improve their lives,
Some of the most sorry plights in Bangladesh are those
of the tea workers. They and their families stay on tea
plantations. They earn no more than 50 cents/ day. They
are landless, with no other options. There is no schooling
for children, and no access to medicine. Mortality rates are
high. Many of them secretly cross the border to India in
order to steal some bamboo or fruits, as they dont have
enough food. Many are beaten or shot in the process. The
situation is humiliating, like modern slavery. The

workers cannot protest because there are so many


unemployed people waiting to take their places. As they
are very religious, we told them, "Will Allah give you
food? No, he will tell you to use your brain, Again, we
encouraged them to save small amounts from what little
income they had,

Standing on Our Own Feet


In 1995, a German NGO offered loans to help us build on

the vocational training we were offering to villagers. With


these loans, we built workshops and equipped them with
hand looms made of bamboo. However, three years later,
in 199S, there was a serious flood. Waters rose and
workshop spaces were flooded for 3 months. All the looms
rotted. We were helpless. The business had to be closed
down, and people could not pay their loans back. We tried
to ask donors for understanding and support, but all
funding was frozen,
At that time, 135 people were working with me, 1 had to
tell them: "1 am sorry, friends. If you want to stay with
me, you are welcome. If you want to try and find better
jobs, please go. But 1 will not stop our work, 1 will eat only
if you can eat. Together, we have to find a different way.
Together, we developed plans that would keep us
independent from outside donations in the future. The
key point was to re-start BASD and extend our saving
programmes. We initiated saving groups in various
villages, using small amounts of interest to pay for our

staff We offered vocational training, and equipped


workshops for tailoring, batik, electronic repairs,
furniture making, etc. Additionally we ran a healthcare
program, primary school education, and many kinds of
non-formal education for elderly people,
After 10 years of working, by 20 12 we were fully selfsufficient, Without any outside funding, we were able to
cover the costs of our own work, including administration
and staff. At that point, the donors regained interest and
started reaching out to us again,

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Introducing Permaculture and Ecovillage


Design
In 1999 1 met an Australian permaculture teacher and one
of GEN ' s founders, Max Lindegger, in India. Later, in
2003, he invited me to be part of a permaculture training
in Sri Lanka. In 2005, 1 participated in Ecovillage Design

Education (EDE) in Australia, From then on, my journey


was connected to the ecovillage and permaculture
networks. Today, 1 am a leading member of GENOA and
on the board of GEN International, Max Lindegger, May
East and Kosha Joubert are my best friends,
Inspired by my experiences in Sri Lanka and Australia,
I offered to share my knowledge with my neighbours. But
they said, "this has nothing to do with our lives,I was
really sad. It was not easy to transmit these new ways of
seeing. Max Lindegger advised me to go ahead and try
again, 1 visited tribal villages in the hills, people who were
working in tea plantations, very poor but with big hearts,
And they accepted me, 1 worked there for 2 years,
supporting them through participatory ecovillage design
processes. Unfortunately, in the end, cultural differences
emerged. Apparently,Ihad done too little to really
understand their culture and their view of the world, 1 had
to stop working with them,
With all the inner learnings from that experience, in
2007 1 started working in a village called Andharmanic.
After talking to villagers about permaculture, 14 families
joined me to create a permaculture garden, showcasing
various kinds of composting and waste management. In
parallel, we started a cultural group, sharing traditional
songs, A participatory process ensued: every month, more
villagers came together to discuss their problems and to
plan their future,

Then people from another village in Banishanta, in the


delta area of Bangladesh, saw the results from the
permaculture garden. They wanted to join, 1 offered EDE
courses for farmers and community leaders from both
villages. If you visit these villages today, you will find
examples of all four dimensions of ecovillage design: their
cooperatives and participatory processes are a rich
expression of the social dimension of sustainability; they
have thriving local economies; a rich spiritual and
cultural programme, celebrating local traditions, and
beautiful ecological activities.
In 2008, two more neighbouring villages showed
interest. This time it was the farmers of the first villages
who talked to them about ecovillages and permaculture,
not me.

Then, 1 met May East, who had worked with GEN and
Gaia Education for many years. She saw the good
activities going on and put us in contact with the Scottish
government. With their assistance, we have now
extended our activities to 42 villages in Banishanta, Kulna
andMongla areas of southern Bangladesh, reaching out to
more than 30,000 people. These communities are
extremely vulnerable to tidal surges and river erosion, All
of these villages have now gained access to ecovillage
approaches: many inhabitants have participated in
permaculture and EDE courses. At least 25 households in
each of the villages have started implementing new

designs and techniques. These households function as


multipliers, so we see the knowledge spreading. We have
also trained 326 teachers and members of local
authorities, and they start and support small projects;
fisheries, organic gardens, nurseries, vermiculture
earth worm composting, etc. The projects are performing
really well and improving prosperity in these villages,

The Ecovillage Programme


We adapted the ecovillage programme to fit the specific
situation of villages in Bangladesh. Many of our villages
are remote; we can only reach them with the help of bikes

and boats, and by crossing huge, tidal rivers. Levels of


illiteracy and gender inequality are high. Most women
work in the home and farm small kitchen gardens. The
men farm and fish and sell the products in the markets of
nearby towns,
Through BASD, we help to form cooperatives and
savings groups in every village. Then, we find out who the
'ecofriendly people are; those who are ready to become
change-makers for sustainability are taught about
ecovillage and permaculture design. Women are always
on the frontline. In all 42 villages, women are playing
much stronger roles now. In the last local elections,
several women were elected as local leaders, which had
never happened before,
Our staff of volunteers attend the meetings of new
groups to support them, but later leave them to continue

on their own. When there is a conflict, we are sometimes

called in again. However, we encourage the village people


to solve their own conflicts. We sit with them, listen, and
possibly offer some ideas on conflict resolution. After two
years the groups become fully independent.

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with theMinister of theEn vironment

Climate Change Adaptation


Bangladesh is one of the places on Earth most endangered
by climate change. Cyclones and floods increasingly hit
our country, year after year. All 42 villages are situated
close to the ocean. It is very hard to improve life in the

villages while they are repeatedly hit. After long


discussions, in 2012 we formed the Climate Change
Mitigation and Adaptation Network in Bangladesh, We
initiated a small-scale relief programme, integrating best
practices from the Permaculture and Ecovillage
programmes,
We introduced the following climate change

adaptation practices in the villages:

* High floors and low ceilings in houses;


* Houses are tied with ropes so that they are not easily

blown away;
Cow stables and toilet floors are raised higher;
* Every village has dry containers in which food, water
and documents can be kept;
* More hanging and climbing vegetables;
Registering centres and management committees help
old and vulnerable people find support;
* Advance warning systems in all villages,
3 60 households so far have started to apply the above, and
others are following. Our journey is adventurous and

ongoing the dream of healthy, strong communities and


villages in Bangladesh is unfolding one step at a time,
Keywords for Solution Library:
Flood Disaster Adaptation Techniques enhancing

chances of survival in some of the most vulnerable


communities
Houseroof Gardens creating areas for protected food
cultivation Tools of Self-reliance and Empowerment enhancing mutual support in communities
solution.eco village\ org

Creative Judaism and Ecological


Consciousness
Kibbutz Lotan / Israel
Kibbutz Lotan, founded in 1983, in the Southern Arava
desert, is one of the last Kibbutzim established in
cooperation with the Israeli government and was the first
Kibbutz to become a member of the Global Ecovillage
Network, With its many ecological activities it is a
catalyst for environmental consciousness in Israel and
for liberal Judaism. Alex Cicelsky is a founding member
and shares his story,

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1 was 18; my first year of college was in Israel, on a
leadership training program in Jerusalem and on a
Kibbutz, Even thoughI couldnt speak the language, 1
quickly felt at home as people were genuinely helpful and
caring. Most people 1 met were volunteers in organisations
concerned with peace and coexistence, social justice and
other charity organisations. The Kibbutz was particularly
fascinating. It was a place where utopian ideas of society
met with the realities of an inclusive modern community,
The Kibbutzim where 1 volunteered were devoid of
religion. Growing up in the USA 1 learned that being
Jewish was both a spiritual experience and a directive
toward creating a just society, 1 found the concept of a
secular Jewish Israeli culture both shocking and
fascinating,
Kibbutz Lotan was established as a pioneering
community experiment, combining the ideals of
egalitarian society with creative and liberal Jewish
expression, and a political agenda of disengaging religion
from government. We were a group of 60 young adults,
aged 1S to 24, from both Israel and other countries around
the world, Lotan is located in the Arava desert, a sparsely
populated region with no territorial conflicts. It is one of
the last Kibbutzim to be established as part of a
government policy of setting up intentional agrarian
communities. At the age of 21, after studying agriculture

in the US, 1 moved to Israel and became a founding


member of Kibbutz Lotam

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Economic Development
A Kibbutz is a legally recognised and supervised
cooperative entity. The government assisted us with
housing. Our income was based on the winter export of
melons, tomatoes, onions and corn, all of which were

grown in sand with brackish water. Agricultural and


management advisers from older Kibbutzim tutored us, 1
picked vegetables, sorted dates, fixed tractors and

dreamed of building a dairy farm, A few years later we


were given a milk production quota and loans to build a
dairy farm which now produces over 3 million litres of
milk a year and supplies us with a constant income that
seasonal vegetables never could. Today, our dates are
considered the best in the country and are irrigated
with treated waste water from Eilat,
These 'milk and honey branches are the backbone of
our economy. However, our economy has always left us
struggling to survive. For thirty two years we were an
income sharing commune, supplying all of the needs of
our members. Housing, food, healthcare, transportation,
electricity, water, education and access to education and
cultural activities were available to families, based on the
number and age of children and in consideration of
special needs. We tried numerous initiatives to increase
our income, including a goat dairy, cheese making and
manufacturing machines to process vegetables, but none
of these was profitable. We acquired debt to develop
agriculture and maintain the community and the
repayment has been a constant burden and a deterrent to
attracting new members,

The Upbringing of Children


Communities are living, changing organisms that need to
respond creatively to internal and external forces. Big
changes came about when the first members of the
Kibbutz became parents. Although historically some

Kibbutzim raised children separately from the parents


because of health issues (malaria infested swamps) and
later because of educational philosophies, we chose to live
in nuclear families as do all Kibbutzim now. Tensions
around scheduling work and financing childcare are
discussed in long community meetings. There has always
been a tradition of 'openly speaking ones thoughts and
emotions, which is both provocative and essential,
Financial security has been a constant struggle,
Kibbutzim in our region agreed to pay off our high interest
loans from banks. In return we repay them at low interest
rates. Funding the 'luxurious simplicity' of rural,
communal living in our region is a challenge because of
the high cost of electricity and well water. In our desert
climate, theres almost no rain which means all water
must be purchased!
60 of the 280 Kibbutzim in Israel are still income
sharing communes. The rest allow for differential pay,
income independence and private ownership of houses,
We changed this year from income-sharing to private
ownership and income to stimulate entrepreneurship.
This also makes us more attractive to young couples
interested in joining and building their homes in our
community. Our Kibbutz budget pays for community
services, youth education, a supplemental health fund,
supplemental pension payments for members with low
wages, and cultural events. Members can work for the

Kibbutz, but the number of jobs is limited. Many of us


work as teachers and social workers in our region,

Ecological Education
In 1996 we developed our educational branch: The Center
for Creative Ecology (CfCE) and joined GEN-Europe in
2001, We were involved with the development of Gaia
Ecovillage Design Education and the spread of

permaculture in Israel, We spearheaded community


recycling, construction from waste materials, straw-bale
and natural construction, urban gardening and
composting. Our Bird and Nature Reserve, built in an
abandoned sand quarry, is a model for protecting the
millions of birds that migrate between Europe and Africa,
Our Tea House was the first solar restaurant in Israel, Our
organic gardens are a training centre for teachers and
activists who have gone on to establish other education
centres and urban gardens in Israel and around the world,
Weve made some important discoveries. Advisers and
farmers taught us that only a limited number of
vegetables could be grown in our region using industrial
fertilisers and regimens of pesticides and herbicides. We
succeeded in eliminating all these chemicals by using
compost and companion planting. The large variety of
plants is an oasis, and is considered by international
birders to be one of Israels top 'hot spots'. We debated
whether we should focus on ecological training or large
scale organic farming and decided to focus on education!

My academic interest evolved from agriculture to


architecture. Ive become a researcher and planner of
energy efficient buildings. We passed the fire codes, so
that earth-plastered straw-bale houses can now be built
legally. Weve built houses that use 70% less energy for

heating and cooling compared to conventional buildings


a considerable feat in summers when temperatures
peak at 40 C daily!
With all our environmental efforts protection of land
support of bird watching waste separation
recycling and composting using renewable energy
energy conserving construction we have made a direct
impact in our region. The region prides itself today on its
achievements in renewable energy. Over 50% of the
electricity that Eilat uses is produced by solar panels and
our region practises significantly more waste separation
and recycling compared to other regions. Were proud to
be reminded that we were the catalyst for these
developments.
The compact photovoltaic system that powers the
EcoCampus, where our students live in ten highly
efficient passive solar straw-bale houses, produces 5
times more electricity than it needs, even when air
conditioners are turned on all summer long. The
EcoCampus kitchen uses biogas. We have no-water toilets
and a grey-water system to showcase for the 10,000
people who come every year to visit and be inspired by our

ecological systems,

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Decision Making
Making community decisions, and airing issues publicly
is both the challenge and strength of intentional
communities. In the beginning everything was discussed
in our general assembly. Now more is processed in
committees and then resolutions are brought forth for
approval. 1 remember the challenges we faced in the early
80s about accepting gay couples in the community. We
were really ahead of the times in Israel. Some members
felt threatened and we spent an intensive month
processing this issue. A gay couple wanted to join us and

they had said that they could only come if they could be
openly gay. It turned out to be a beautiful process,
everyone learnt a lot, and ultimately people were looking
at their own prejudices and were able to say that they
wanted to live in a community that supports everyone
openly. The process radiated to all the communities in our
region, A decade later one of our Kibbutz youth came out
as gay and was accepted without ridicule by his peers at
home and at school
Lotan today has around 150 residents. We have 50
adult members and candidates for membership, 70
children and a few grandparents who have retired with
us. We have run leadership training for 18-year old
Israelis for two decades, focusing on youth education and
communal living. We have a 20-room guesthouse and a
Watsu (shiatsu in water) spa, Permaculture and
Ecovillage Education programme participants live with us
constantly,
Guests and our students have initiated spectacular
projects around the globe that they say were inspired by
what they learned while living with us. Our interpretation
of the story of Genesis is that humans were placed in the
Garden of Eden to be stewards of nature while developing
human habits with care and tolerance. Our vision is to
meet that challenge in our community and to teach others
to do the same in theirs.

www.kibbutazlotan.org

Keywords for Solution Library;


Saltwater Farming farming with brackish water in
hot/ arid environments
Strawbale Building 2 using strawbales as perfect
combination of natural bricks and insulation
Compost Toilets 2 reducing the use of water while
creating natural manure for reforestation
solution.eco village, org

Overcoming Occupation
Hakoritna Farm / Palestine
The Palestinian farmer, Fayez Taneeb, became a political
activist when most of his farm was destroyed by Israeli
soldiers enclosed by the Separation Wall on one side,
and a chemical factory on the other. Today he is a farmer
again. Together with his wife Mima, he is transforming
what is left of their farm into a demonstration and
training site for sustainability a mini-ecovillage.

Fayez Taneeb and Aida Shibli


Aida Shibli, a Palestinian peace activist raised in Israel, a
member of the Global Campus and board member of GENlnternational, has organised workshops about sustainable
technologies for students of agriculture. Together, Fayez
and Aida gathered students from universities in the West
Bank, experts from within Palestine and abroad, and built
exemplary infrastructure for solar energy, biogas,
compost toilets and permaculture. More importantly, they
are weaving a net of hope in the West Bank, creating a
base of knowledge and confidence for the time after
occupation,

Aida Shibli Israeli-Palestinian activist,

Aida Shibli
Even as a child, 1 could not accept people saying: "things
are as they are". 1 was convinced that things could be
changed. During the first Intifada, when 1 was 16, 1

created a banner for our balcony with the words:


'Territories for Peace, One hour later, 16 policemen came
to our house. They took me in for one night of
investigation,
This experience changed my life. 1 started to educate
myself and discovered all the things that my people did
not speak about: the massacres, the displacements. 1
became a peace activist, working with both Palestinians

and Israelis, In 2000, during the second Intifada,I was a


nurse and was treating both Israeli soldiers and
Palestinian suicide bombers, 1 understood that it was not
about taking sides. It was the system itself that was
wrong,
In the middle of an exploding Jerusalem, 1 found

myself pregnant and alone my husband abandoned me


after five months of marriage,Iunderstood that my work
should not only be about political peace, but also about
peace between man and woman. 1 made a vow to my
unborn child: 'Another life must be possible, and 1 will
search for it.' The vision thatIcarry is of a planet Earth in
abundance, 1 work wholeheartedly for a free Palestine, but
my vision and my inner source go beyond this,
For 10 years 1 have been holding the vision of a Peace
Research Village in the Middle East, where Palestinians,
Israelis andInternationals work in mutual support and
reconciliation. We have made a lot of effort to achieve this
vision.I wanted to expose more fellow Palestinians to this
vision. However, whenever we tried to work determinedly
in mixed groups of Palestinians and Israelis, we found
ourselves being drawn into conflicts about responsibility
and the radicalism of injustices. We are not yet able to
solve this at the root.
Our conclusion was that, for the coming years, we
would separate our work. The Israeli group works in
Israeli society, and the Palestinian group focuses on

Palestine, 1 started to create spaces in the West Bank

where local communities could meet local experts,


protected by international witnesses. With the support of
the Global Campus founded in Tamera, Portugal, and the
company Lush from the UK, 1 started this work on the
Hakoritna farm in Tulkarem in 2013,
Fayez is a political activist and leader who has become
a farmer again. Keeping his farm is his form of resistance,
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Sustainability and Autonomy

Creating models for sustainability and autonomy does not


just express my love for the Earth; it is a tool of resistance,
1 believe that our first freedom is to liberate ourselves
from foreign supply systems for food, energy or water,
Blaming the forces of occupation wont change anything,
but using our knowledge to turn our villages and homes
into sustainable models will be our path towards
liberation. Our workshops are not so much about
teaching, but about remembering and sharing the
knowledge that is already there,
One example is the solar dryer. The Palestinian farmers
cannot export their products because of the checkpoints
and the wall. They can only sell inside Palestine, and as
products in such a small country are ripe at the same
time, the market is at times flooded with cheap tomatoes,
cucumbers or mandarins. Thus, farmers cannot ask a
price that pays for their work, especially when they grow
organic fruits. By establishing the solar dryers, we created
the possibility of preserving fruits and vegetables for the
winter, thus strengthening food sovereignty. When we
presented this technology people said: "We used to dry our
products on the rooftops, but we had to take them down in
the evening and put them back up in the morning, and
sometimes it rained and then all was ruined, The solar
dryer makes things easy: a plastic sheet tunnel and solar
driven fans to take care of the right humidity. The fruits
are dried in one day. Another example: flush toilets were

not in our culture originally, but now they consume a lot

of our precious water resources. We installed compost


toilets to demonstrate an alternative technique using
the fence protecting the separation wall as part of the
construction,

For some of the young people, the

workshops are the


first time they have spent a night away from their
parents5 home, and to share openly with others. We run
womens empowerment groups and talk together about all
topics of life; 'What will come after occupation?' is a
question that we address, too, Israeli soldiers can become
curious and drop by with their guns. Previously, without
internationals present, these visits often became nasty,
Now, at times they are received with open hands full of
fresh strawberries, instead,
The work on the farm is only the beginning,
Palestinians today are occupied by the needs of daily
living. Travelling from one part of the country to the other
is expensive. We are not connected to each other as we
used to be. And because there are very few jobs inside
Palestine, every morning, thousands of people stand in
the line to cross the border with the hope of working some
hours in Israel for a tiny salary. Instead of wasting our
time at checkpoints and borders, we could do precious
work in our country if we only had models to show us
the way,
We know many people who are active in their villages,

We visit them. We organise meetings andinvite them to

with each other. We run educational programmes


to share our knowledge about solutions and our inner
experiences. Meanwhile, all across the West Bank, people
know us from the TV and newspapers. What we do is
appreciated by the communities. Some of us have the
privilege of seeing the wall from both sides. It is our task
to share information about the reality on the other side.
We will continue transforming pain into hope, no matter
how extreme and challenging the situation is. We want to
see Palestine green and free,
connect

Fayez Taneeb
The Israeli authorities confiscated 80% of our farm to
build the wall and chemical factories; now there only 2
hectares left. We have tried to fight the destruction
nonviolently, without success. However, the core of the
farm has endured in the middle of all this damage. For me,
this is a miracle. This was my motivation to start this
project and create a place for hope. Since we started,
numerous university students, journalists, womens
organisations, and supporters from outside Palestine and
from the local communities, have come to witness this
model of resistance and are inspired.

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Fayez Taneeb, owner ofHakoritnaFarm,

Tulkarem is a special place because of the forest that


spreads throughout the city, along the streets and
everywhere. We plant many trees! Tulkarems people are
known for their generosity and openness, hosting visitors
with a warm heart. We also have famous local products
such as the sweetest ice cream in the world! Every
morning, Muna and 1 walk 10 kilometers to the farm by
foot, and we stay there most of the day. On the farm 1 feel
the deep connection with the earth, the sense of belonging
to it, andthe connection to Nature and our products,
We have workers and women working with us. For the
new ecological and environmental achievements of the

farm and the entire alternative infrastructure, it is either


Muna, or our son Oday, or me who supervises and takes
care of it, Oday has acquired a wide knowledge and might
be the next one to take the flame and hold the vision,
Every day we work with the solar dryer. In each season we
have different fruits to experiment with. Last year, we
dried loquats, citrus fruits and grapes. Beyond that, we
have established permaculture methods on the farm: we
have a seed bank, a biogas system and compost toilets,
It has always been our way of life to be generous, to
give something to people we meet, and to help people in
different aspects of their life. We aim to keep the spirit of
collaboration with each breath. Carrying a noble message
to others is what makes us human beings. Our message
now is about clean food and clean living that is, food
that doesnt contain pesticides and a way of living that
does not destroy the natural systems around us, but helps
to regenerate them.

TheFarm is dampedbetween the Separation Wallandchemical

factories.

Struggles and Hope


The occupation in our country is present in every moment
of our lives, whether it affects us on an individual level or
as a whole community. There are severe environmental
problems connected to the occupation: industrial waste is
being dumped in our territories, numerous new Israeli
settlements located on hill tops release their sewage water
to villages and farms down the hill. The 11 chemical

factories around Tulkarem were forbidden to operate in


Israel because they were categorised as environmentally
destructive. Now they have established them here and, as
a result, we have the highest rate of cancer in the whole
country.

Also, the economy is a challenge: all tools and


equipment we need have to be obtained from the system
of occupation, which means they are expensive but our
products can only be sold in our local markets for very low
prices. We constantly feel the presence of the occupation
and work to end it. In the Middle East, we tend to take to
violence as a way to deal with injustice. However, 1 will
continue to believe in nonviolence and carry this message
with me. What gives me hope is that our young people are
starting to hold the vision with us. 1 can see my future in
them. What gives me the strength to continue the work is
having an amazing wife like Muna. She has an amazing
and generous spirit of giving, creating, holding and
persisting: she is unimaginable! Whenever she sees that
my energy is going down, and that 1 am losing hope, she
reminds me, and charges me with more faith so that 1 can
carry on.
In my view, humanity is living on one ship, and

nobody has the right to damage the spot he is standing on


because this will eventually kill us all. The new
approaches we share on the farm are like a lighthouse for
all the people visiting us. My promise is thatI will keep

working for a better world and continue the simple but


powerful message of producing clean food 1 will make the
farm a model for many other projects in the West Bank,
and trust that in time we will see hundreds of similar
projects spreading throughout Palestine. 1 hope that the
Global Campus and GEN-Palestine become a big
movement connecting many people all over the country
and beyond,
Keywords for Solution Library:
Biogas using organic waste as energy resource
Solar Dryer preserving fruits and vegetables in
sustainable ways
solution.eco village, org

THE HISTORY OF GEN


Global Ecovillage Network: 1991-2015
Ross andHildur Jackson

Ross andHildur Jackson, from Denmark, are the parents'


of the Global Ecovillage Network, Here they share how it

started and how they see it developing today,

Introduction
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) has existed for 20
years and Gaia Education, which began as a GEN project,
is celebrating its 10th year of teaching the principles of
living sustainably,
Ecovillages provide models for lifestyles that reduce
our ecological footprint while delivering a better quality of
life lifestyles that are possible in all countries of the
world. The models are based on solidarity and cooperation
and may provide a prototype that can lead to global
justice. In ecovillages we are learning how to solve
conflicts, how to develop a global consciousness, how to
create places where children can grow up in sane and
healthy environments, how to use renewable, integrated
energy systems, how to provide 100% organic food and
how to live lives full of love and compassion,

The ecovillage movement can be seen as a deliberate


strategic response to the destructive consequences of the
dominant world view. The 'market society simply doesnt
work for the vast majority of people; it can never lead to
anything but a degraded environment and a disastrous
and widening gap between the rich and the poor,
The ecovillage movement is part of a much larger
movement of civil society initiatives that are responding
to these issues. When Ken Wilber recommends 'integral
practice, he is describing ecovillage living. The Voluntary
simplicity that Duane Elgin calls for, and the 'sustainable
abundance that Bernard Lietaer describes, can be found in
the lifestyles of ecovillagers. When Paul Ray andRuth
Sherry Anderson define the rise of the 'Cultural Creatives,
they are describing the values already adopted and
implemented by ecovillagers. When Thomas Berry calls
for a 'new story of the universe, ecovillagers are already
practising this story on the ground. While many other
parts of the greater movement focus on important single
issues, like climate agreements, renewable energy,
economic reforms, etc,, ecovillagers play the role of living
holistic solutions and 'walking their talk,
The ecovillage movements time may have finally
arrived. It has laid a firm foundation for people who are
aware that we must quickly move to a sustainable and
equitable global society, based not on the needs of
multinational corporations but on the needs of ordinary

people everywhere. We can change society from the


bottom up and we are doing it. However, we cannot do it
alone. We also need radically revised global trade
agreements, a consensus on how to tackle climate change,
and real empowerment for people in the poorest countries,

The Origin
The impulse for the Global Ecovillage Network came from
an initiative taken by Gaia Trust in 1990. The following
article is a personal account of some of the major
milestones along the way as seen from our particular
vantage point. We have broken it into two parts 19912003 and 2003-2015,

HUdursstory
When Hildur gained her degree as a lawyer in January of
1967, she went to a kibbutz in Israel to explore whether
humans were essentially egoistic or not. This had been a
recurring discussion with her partner, Ross Jackson, From
her time there, she developed a deep conviction that
human nature can change and that it's possible to build a
better society. She married Ross and had her first baby in
February 196S (the same week that Auroville was
founded and student rebellions swept Europe), She began
her study of cultural sociology in Denmark to acquire
knowledge about bringing about change. For the next 10
years she questioned traditional science, joined and
created social movements and co-founded one of the first

Danish co-housing projects. Everything seemed possible,


She then heard about a Norwegian Project, The Nordic
Alternative Future Project initiated by Norwegian Erik
Dammann (founder of The Future in our Hands), The
project linked 100 Nordic grassroots movements to the
best of the scientific community, in order to create a
vision of how to solve global, social and environmental
problems. Research councils were created in the different
Nordic countries Hildur worked in the Danish group for
ten years as a coordinator and later brought a report,
'Future Letters from the North to the womens UN
meeting in Nairobi, Here she made friends with Wangari
Maathai,

What became clear to Hildur was that we have all the


knowledge and tools we need to change the world. But we
in the North have to put our own house in order, build
sustainable communities and give up exploiting the rest
of the world. This was her background for co-founding
Gaia Trust a Danish charitable association in 1987
and for formulating the Gaia Trust's
strategy,
For many centuries, technology and economics {yan}
have determined how society is organised. Now, it seems
the right time for people to decide how they want to live
together. Do men and women want to live in harmony
with nature in a sustainable and spiritually-satisfying
way that is also globally just? This is the yin part of the
strategy. The yangpart is to develop technologies that are

supportive of this vision,

Ross's Story
Ross's background was quite different, being a
management consultant in the private sector specialising
in Operations Research with broad experience in many
industries. He had for some years been concerned with the

neglect of the environment and global trends that tended


to increase the gap between rich and poor. He agreed with
the conclusions of the Limits to Growth model, that
civilisation would be facing formidable problems in the
foreseeable future. He was also in agreement with Hildur,
that action was most unlikely to come from politicians,
who were actually part of the problem,
Ross was attracted to the idea of supporting a network
of ecovillages because he saw its strategic potential as a
countervailing power to the coming global economic
crisis. He believes that as we reach the limits to growth,
and if the global economy collapses or it becomes difficult
to make a planned transition to a sustainable future, it
will be necessary to build a new culture. The foundation
of this culture must necessarily be sustainable human
settlements, and for these we need good models. Thus a
network of ecovillages that provided such models would
be an invaluable base on which to build,

The Early Years: 1991-2004


Fjordvartg1991

in 1990, Hildur and Ross bought Fjordvang, the former

World University, in Western Denmark, which had been


an international learning centre for 25 years under the
leadership of Aage Rosendal Nielsen. In 1991, Robert and
Diane Gilman, editors of In Context magazine, moved
there with them to build an ecovillage and work on their
common cause. As a first step, Gaia Trust commissioned
Robert and Diane to survey the field and identify the best
examples of ecovillages from around the world. The
Gilmans' report to Gaia Trust showed that, although many
exciting and vastly different communities existed, a fullscale, ideal ecovillage did not exist. But, together, the
existing projects made up a vision of a different culture
and lifestyle that had great potential.
Based on the Gilmans' report, twenty people from some
of the communities and a few broad thinkers were invited
in to discuss how Gaia Trust could best use its funds. The
participants included a number of people who wouldlater
be key leaders of GEN Max Lindegger, Declan Kennedy,
and Albert Bates as well as intellectuals outside of the
ecovillage sphere, such as Karl-Henrik Robert, founder of
The Natural Step, David Korten (who later wrote When
CorporationsRule the World) and Marilyn Mehlmann of
The Global Action Plan. The consensus that the group
reached was that Gaia Trust should support the people
who were actually living the new paradigm the
ecovillagers because they were essential for the

transition and were receiving no support from elsewhere,


It became clear to all that the world needed good examples
of what it means to live in harmony with nature in a
sustainable and spiritually-satisfying way, in a
technologically advanced society,
Which were the first 'ecovillages? It is a difficult
question because many of the communities were founded
before GEN existed. In the 1960s, several spiritually-based
projects were initiated in different parts of the world:
Findhorn in Scotland, The Farm in Tennessee, USA,
Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka and the NAAM movement in
Burkino Faso. Solheimer in Iceland has roots going all the
way back to 1930, The Indian philosopher and sage Sri
Aurobindo and his French counterpart, The Mother, put
forth the vision of Auroville in India in 196S, So there is
no easy answer. As Geoph Kozeny states in his video,
Visions of Utopia, the idea of 'community5 goes back a long
way. Community has been the essence of human culture
from time immemorial. But by adopting a new name, the
basic concept was infused with new energy.
In 1993, Gaia Trust brought together a number of
established and embryonic Danish ecovillages under the
Danish Ecovillage Network the first national network,
A second global strategy meeting was called at Fjordvang,
with a smaller group focusing strictly on the ecovillage
strategy, and a loose network was informally initiated
with a secretariat in Denmark funded by Gaia Trust under

the daily leadership of Hamish Stewart,

Findhorn1995
The movement took a major step in 1995, A conference at
Findhorn: 'Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities for
the 21st Century was organised by the Findhorn
community (led by John Talbot and Diane Gilman) and
the evolving informal ecovillage network. It was a great
success. The proceedings were published in 1996 by
Findhorn Press Ecovillages andSustainable Communities;
Modelsfor 21st Century Living. The conference was
attended by over 400 people from forty countries, while
another 300 who wished to be there had to be turned
away. It was clear that the ecovillage concept had hit a
sensitive nerve with a lot of people.
Immediately following this meeting, 20 people from
different ecovillages met for five days and the Global
Ecovillage Network was formally established. It consisted
of three regional networks to cover the globe
geographically, with centres at The Farm (USA),
Lebensgarten (Germany) and Crystal Waters (Australia)
and an international coordinating office at Gaia Trust,
Denmark, Gaia Trust committed to covering the expenses
of the network for 3-5 years. The plan was first to focus on
forming regional networks that would link existing
projects. A second, longer-term goal was set to create
global services, like an education network, that would cut
across regions, as soon as budgets and manpower

permitted,
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UNHabitatII:Istanbul
At the Findhorn meeting it was decided inspired by

Rashmi Mayurs passionate presence that the


movement should join the United Nations Habitat 11
conference in Istanbul, the following summer, A major
exhibition at the NGO forum was built: a long straw bale
wall, plastered with clay, became an ideal place for posters
with photos from ecovillages around the world, A model
windmill, solar cells and running water contributed to a

pleasant atmosphere, Hildur had prepared 5,000 copies of


a booklet called TheEarth is Our Habitat, and more than 40
workshops covering all issues of ecovillages and global
politics were held. Outside, GEN was in charge of building
an old Harran stone house with master builders from the
region,
Indian architect Suhasini from Auroville built an
attractive and earthquake-resistant house in just five
days from mud bricks produced on site with a manual
earth-pressing machine,
Hanne Strong instigated our first contact with Ari
Ariyaratne from Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka, She had invited
40 spiritual leaders, who in their concluding statement
praised ecovillages as an important new concept. Many
guests from the official conference visited and praised the
GEN exhibition and GEN was invited to address the
official UN delegates, with Ross writing and Helena
Norberg-Hodge delivering a well-received talk, Istanbul
put GEN firmly on the global map.

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RegionalNetworks
During the next three years networks were built under the
leadership of the three regional secretaries, namely Declan
Kennedy, Albert Bates and Max Lindegger, the initial GEN
board, with coordination by Hamish Stewart, the
International Secretary, based at Fjordvang,
This period resulted in the establishment and growth
of three autonomous networks covering the globe; The
Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA), GEN-Europe,
which also covered Africa at that time, and GEN
Asia/Oceania (GENOA), The GEN board met in many parts
of the world during this time,

Gaia Trust Gears Down


In June 2001, Gaia Trust warned that its financial support
to GEN would gradually decrease over the next two years,
GEN would have to find new sources of funding. This was
because it was always Gaia Trusts policy to use its capital
over a relatively short period while its founders were still
active, and it wanted to ensure that GEN did not become

dependent,

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The GENAmbassador - RashmiMayur

No history of GEN would be complete without mentioning

the special role played by the late Dr Rashmi Mayur,


leader of the International Institute for Sustainable Future
in Mumbai, India,
Rashmi was unofficially GENs 'ambassador to the UN,
He participated in all the big conferences as well as many
planning meetings. He was an adviser to the UN and
several Southern governments,
At the Johannesburg UN Earth Summit of August 2002,
Rashmi was appointed official spokesman for the South,
and had planned 28 major speeches and workshops. But,
tragically, he suffered a debilitating stroke during his first
speech, was unconscious for four months, slowly
recovered all faculties but passed away in early 2004, He
is greatly missed by all his colleagues who carry on his
vision to create a more sustainable, more just world,

Spirituality inEcovillages
It has been exciting to follow and visit so many
communities with different spiritual practices. One thing
stands out: in a world torn by religious strife, GEN has
never had any problems. Quite the opposite, in fact. We

have prayed and meditated in all existing traditions and


felt enriched and accepted by all. In our international
community, people from so many spiritual backgrounds
cooperate, accept and love each other. We all have the
same values, independent of religion and culture. The
world needs this kind of interfaith work,

2004-2015
forewarned, Gaia Trust was forced to cut back on its
level of funding for GEN by a factor often after July 2003,
For all intents and purposes, GEN became a volunteer
organisation,
As

Educationfor Sustainability

The idea of creating an educational programme was on the


table from the very beginning. By the late 1990s, most of
the larger ecovillages were teaching in their regions as
they naturally wanted to share their knowledge. They
were typically teaching permaculture and sustainability
and the design of ecovillages. Some of the larger ones
began to call themselves 'Living and Learning centres, a
concept first conceived by Philip Snyder, But there was no
universal curriculum.
In 1998, Hildur invited 55 educators from within the
ecovillage network to come to Fjordvang, to celebrate
Rosss 60th and Max Lindeggers 50th birthdays and to
brainstorm around the idea of creating a comprehensive
educational programme for sustainability design. This
would integrate the concepts of organic farming,
permaculture, renewable energy, wastewater treatment,
facilitation of meetings, ecological building, conflict
resolution, green businesses and economy and much
more, into a programme that can be taught at ecovillages
and illustrated with on-site field work, based on the

'Living and Learning concept as a new paradigm in


education, Le, you can live the new lifestyle, while you are
learning how to establish and design it,
Hildur took the initiative for a further meeting at
Findhorn in June 2004 with 30 invited educators. The
starting point was the 'sustainability wheel described in
Hildur and Karen Svenssons book, EcovillageLiving:
Restoring theEarth andHer People, which was published in
2002,

Gaia Education (see www,gaiaeducation.net) was


formally launched in October 2005 at the GEN + 10
Conference in Findhorn, and flourished under the
wonderful leadership of May East, Since then, GEN and
Gaia Education have worked very closely together, but as
two separate entities. The first 'product was a four week
course called Ecovillage Design Education (EDE), which
continues to be taught all over the world (in 35 countries
at the last count). In 2008 an on-line version of the EDE
was developed with the Open University of Catalonia in
Barcelona and is scheduled to become an accredited 2-year
Masters degree course in its Sth season, 2015/16, The
curriculum is now available on the Gaia Education
website in 10 languages,

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After the cutback in 2003, GEN continued to develop


over the next six years or so. These were difficult years, A
positive aspect was the annual GEN-Europe assembly,
which attracted more and more people each year as the
ecovillage idea gradually spread, not least to Eastern
Europe and Russia, With the introduction of the Gaia
Education programme in 2005, new life emerged in many
ecovillages education was seen not only as a vehicle for
local outreach but also for generating some income. The
free material and a polished curriculum with UNITAR,

and UNESCO's stamp of approval made it easy to get


started and attract people. Education was becoming an
essential part of every ecovillage's story,

RevivingGEN
A new activist phase in GEN's history began with the

election of Kosha Joubert as president in 2008, Kosha was


one of the 30 educators who had developed the Gaia
Education curriculum and she had been very successful
in introducing it to her ecovillage, Sieben Linden in
Germany, inviting many foreign participants and getting
financial support from the German government. One of
the major goals of this time was to support the emergence
of an independent African network. This was initiated in
2012, with financial help, once again, from the German
foreign ministry, and the developments were followed
with great interest.

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A new generation of GEN was very creative in
extending its range of activities, and at the same time

inspiring increasing momentum in all regions; a more


streamlined organisation and broader vision was
established; in 20 13, an independent South American
network CASA evolved out of ENA; the youth
organisation, NextGEN, flourished.
In December 2012 the world was celebrating the end of
one Mayan age and the beginning of a new one. Gaia Trust

decided to give 5 rewards to 5 of the initiators and


mainstays of GEN and Gaia Education, These were given
to Max Lindegger, Albert Bates and Declan Kennedy for
building the GEN networks and to May East and Kosha
joubert for being inspiring leaders of Gaia Education and
GEN in recent years,
By visiting an ecovillage like Findhorn, Sieben Linden,
Tamera, Damanhur, Auroville or Ecovillage at Ithaca, you
can experience a new culture emerging. They are all a
little different but have in common a holistic culture
where people are in a process of change, where the goal is
to live a full and joyful social life, while keeping the
ecological footprint low, and not forgetting the old GEN
saying: "If it aint fun, it aint sustainable!"

Appendix
How to get involved
If this book inspires you to want to get more involved, you
are welcome to join us[

Locally
Find your local ecovillage and offer to volunteer there. Its
a good way to get to know the community and see if it is
for you. If there are no ecovillages nearby, start asking
questions openly why not. You may just find many other
people thinking like you,

Nationally
Some countries have national networks of ecovillages that
can help you find the ecovillage you are looking for or give
you advice on how to start an ecovillage in your country,
If there are ecovillages, you could help network them

and maybe work toward a national network. If there are


no ecovillages nationally consider becoming a GEN
Ambassador, presenting the concept of ecovillages in your
area. See our webpages for more details.

Regionally
If you are part of an ecovillage project, consider applying
for GEN membership as a full, aspiring or supportive

member. GEN is present all over the world and there may
be possibilities to volunteer or do an internship at one of
their regional offices,
In most cases you must be able to cover your own costs
of a room and board. Check if there are grants or
scholarships available to support your work. You can also
become an online volunteer. It is a great way to gain an
overview of what is happening in your region,
Contact us if you are interested in writing your thesis
on a sustainable communities-related theme.

Globally
GEN is a global organisation and we want to develop our
network where you are. Perhaps you can offer your talents
in sustainability, translation, IT, communications and

publicity, policy-influencing and fundraising to


international working groups that work online. The GEN
International office is always interested in receiving
volunteers and interns. Unfortunately at the moment we
do not have the funds to pay for these interns, so most of
our volunteers find their own funding. We like to have
interns for at least 3 months,
Wherever you live you can become a Friend of GEN by
joining our Friends of GEN campaign, which supports
people everywhere trying to make the change that is so
necessary. Find more information on our websites!

Interested?

If you feel inspired, why not send us your CV and a


motivation letter stating the kind of tasks you would hope
to do and what you think you could offer? Please contact
us at;

infofajecovillage.org (International)
infofjjgen-europe.org (Europe)
contactfajecovillage.org (North America)
infofajecovilla ge.org (CASA)

contactfajgen-africa.org (Africa)
welcomefajecovillage.org (Oceania and Asia)

GEN Newsletter
The GEN Newsletter is the main medium of
communication of the international ecovillage movement.
It is sent out four times a year to over 15,000 addresses
worldwide, as well as to policy makers, social media,
magazines and newspapers. It is enlivened by
contributions from all continents; members of GEN,
regional networks, ambassadors, and activists of related
movements.

The newsletter is a forum for events, innovations and


developments from the world of the ecovillages. On our
website gen.ecQvillage.org you can download a pdf version
or subscribe to it for free.
We look forward to your contribution! Send it to;
news@ecovillage.org

NextGEN - GEN ' s Youth Organisation

Since 2005, a group of empowered young people have been


creating an inspiring movement within the existing
ecovillage network, NextGEN is the name of this youthfocused and youth-directed Thematic Network of the
Global Ecovillage Network, NextGEN is now building
youth-based projects in every region of GEN, and its
members represent a wide diversity of young people from
around the world,
In 2012 NextGEN experienced a revival and has since
been running youth programmes emerging from young
peoples passionate desire to lead a purposeful life. Their
curiosity is the natural foundation of true innovation,
Their projects focus on ecological initiatives like
permaculture or ecological clubs, on leadership-training,
such as learning Sociocracy and Dragon Dreaming and
on international youth exchange between the Global
South and Global North, to learn to respect and
understand each other. We explore culture, education, art
and communication in such a way that previouslyunimagined potentials can unfold. The energy generated
through group building activities and visioning a future
we want, helps to heal old wounds and find new
pathways, NextGEN has already proved, in its brief
history, that empowering youth is an important step for
humanity to be able to withdraw from the current
destructive system into a new world. All are invited to join
us,

In July 2013, during the annual GEN Conference in


Schweibenalp, Switzerland, NextGEN was deeply

honoured to receive the Gaia Excellence Award for the


most inspiring project of the year. This achievement was
primarily due to inspiring presentations from youthbased projects around the world. The award, granted by
the General Assembly of Ecovillages, showed a sign of
faith and support from the entire GEN community, and
redoubled NextGEN's commitment to create a strong
youth movement, while keeping the clear connection to
GEN,

nextgen.ecovillage.org

Other GEN websites


Each of the seven GEN regions, GEN-International, GENAfrica, GEN-Europe, GEN-NA, GENOA, CASA and
NextGEN have their own regional website with specific
information regarding each region.

genoa.ecovillage,org
GENOA is a network of people, ecovillages and
organisations in the region of Oceania & Asia,

genna.ecovillage,org
GENNA - the Ecovillage Network of North America and is
active primarily in the United States and Canada,

gen.ecovillage,org

GEN-lnternational is the umbrella organization which


represents all of the regional networks and supports the
global movement of ecovillages as a whole. Here you can
also find news, events, resources and information
relevant to GEN on a global level,

gen-europe.org
GEN-Europe is the European ecovillage association
promoting social resilience, environmental protection and
restoration of nature through the concept of ecovillages as
models for sustainable human settlements.

gen-africa.ecovillage.org
GEN-Africa is the African ecovillage association,
promoting social resilience, environmental protection and
restoration of nature through the concept of ecovillages as
models for sustainable human settlements.

casa.ecovillage,org
CASA is the Council of the Americas Sustainable

Settlements, which coordinates and strengthens Latin


American national networks that promote, educate,
investigate and disseminate sustainable lifestyles,

sites,ecovillage.org
GEN Sites is the online community platform of the Global
Ecovillage Network, A multitude of features support
networking and collaborative project development. It

includes news and events from the network as well as a

Forum and Marketplace. It also includes a database of

information about projects and ecovillages from around


the world,

db.eco village,org
The GEN Database gives a clean interface to view and
manage projects and events in our online community
platform. It provides access to the same data that can be
accessed through GEN Sites, but without the social
features. It focuses on providing a clean and structured
experience,

solution.ecoviBage.org
We face many challenges in our time. At the same time,

there are a great many solutions out there and many


people eager to implement them. The Solution Library
connects these two. It creates a simple access interface,
with clear routes leading users to the information they are
searching for. The aim is to make solutions for the
transition to sustainability universally accessible,
The solutions library has been established to bring
together people and solutions to create a future for
humankind and all life. It provides a platform for sharing
the solutions that are hidden in the corners of the world,
gathering them all in one easy-to-browse website.
Whats more, it also provides the ability to share
experiences with using the solutions, and members can
connect with one another, or with the projects where the

solutions are used. In this way, the Solution Library


facilitates the global exchange of knowledge and
expertise, empowering people everywhere in applying
workable solutions. And perhaps the best thing; its all for
freel We warmly invite you to browse, share and connect.

Enjoy!

GEN and Gaia Education: the

landscape of collaborationin
the fiery urgency of now
Gaia Education was bom of the networks of GEN, created
over a series of meetings between ecovillage educators and
academic and professional backgrounds in a wide range of
disciplines, A key achievement of this gifted think-thank
was the development of the Ecovillage Design Education
(D) curriculum, drawing on the experience and
expertise of a network of some of the most successful
ecovillages and community projects worldwide,
For the last decade Gaia Education has been
empowering change-makers with the skills to redesign
the human presence in the world It has successfully
supported the delivery of more than ISO programmes in
34 countries over 5 continents, reaching over 5,000
people. These programmes have been offered in tribal and
traditional communities, intentional ecovillages, urban
slums, universities and training centres,
The courses qualify students of all ages with the
appropriate skills and analytical tools to design a society
which uses energy and materials with greater efficiency,

distributes wealth fairly, and strives to eliminate waste.


Students become sustainability designers, taking active
roles in transitioning their existing communities,
institutions and neighbourhoods to more sustainable
patterns of production and consumption, as well as
leading more joyful, meaningful and healthy lives. Today
Gaia Education has diversified its activities into three
learning streams;

* Face-face EDE certified programmes in partnership with


over 60 institutions worldwide

* E-learning Design for Sustainability global classrooms


in English, Spanish and Portuguese
* Project-based learning activities in the Global South,
supporting the implementation of the MDGs and the
post-2015 development agenda,

In our multiply connected world we are the first


generation that can end poverty and the last generation
that can take bold steps to avoid the worst effects of
resource depletion and climate change, 2015 marks the
consolidation of the Sustainable Development Goals
providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for
transformative change and potentially ushering in a new
cycle of shared prosperity and a sustainable future for all,
2015 also marks 10 years of Gaia Education and 20 years
of GEN our sister organisation and synergistic partner
over the last decade. We take this joint birthday as an

opportunity to reinvigorate and strengthen our


collaboration in the fiery urgency of now,

Literature List
Literature
Abouleish, Ibrahim. (2005), Sekem;A Sustainable
Community in theEgyptianDesert. Edinburgh, Floris Books
Bang, Jan Martin, (2005) Ecovillages:A Practical Guide to
Sustainable Communities. Edinburgh: Floris Books,

Barton, H, (ed) (2000a), Sustainable Communities: The


Potentialfor Eco-Neighbourhoods; London: arths can
Publications Ltd,
Bauman, Zygmunt, (2001) Community:SeekingSafety in
an insecure World. Cambridge,

Bossel, Hartmut, (1999) "Indicators for sustainable


development: theory, method, applications, A report to the
Balaton Group." USD, Winnipeg,
www.ulb.ac.be/ceese/STAFF/Tom/bossel.pdf
Chatterton, Paul and Alice Cutler. (200S) TheRocky Road
to aReal Transition:The Transition TownsMovement and
What itMeansfor Social Change. Education Collective
Trapese. w w w, stuffit. org/trapes e/

Christian, Diane Leafe, (2003) CreatingaLife together:


PracticalTools to Grow Ecovillages andIntentional

Communities. Canada: New Society Publishers.

Dawson, Jonathan. (2006) Ecovillages:New Frontiersfor


Sustainability. Devon: Green Books Ltd,
Dawson, Jonathan, and Helena Norberg-Hodge and Ross
Jackson, (2010) EconomicKey:GaianEconomicsLiving Well
withinPlanetary Limits. UK: Permanent Publications,

Duhm, Dieter (2001), The SacredMatrix:From theMatrix


of Violence to theMatrix ofLife, TheFoundationfor aNew
Civilization. Wiesenburg:Meiga Publishing,
EDE (Ecovillage Design Education) (2005): a four-week
comprehensive course to the fundamentals of Ecovillage
Design for Urban and Rural Settlements, Endorsed by
UNITAR- United Nations Institute for Training and

Research. Version 3,0: 21.09,05, Director: May East,


www.gaiaeducation.org/
http:/ /ecovillage. wikicities.com/wiki/ Gaia Education
04,04.09

Eurotopia, 1998-2004. Intentional Communities and


Ecovillages in Europe. Poppau, Also: w ww.eurotopia. de
Ergas, C, (2010) "A Model of Sustainable Living: Collective
Identity in an Urban Ecovillage. Organization St
Environment 23(l):32-54.

Social Key - Beyond You and Me: Inspiration and Wisdom


for Building Community Editors: Anja Kosha Joubert and

Robin Alfred
Economic Key - Gaian Economics - Living well within
planetary limits Editors; Jonathan Dawson, Helena
Norberg-Hodge and Ross Jackson

Ecological Key - Designing Ecological Habitats - Creating a


Sense of Place Editors: Chris Mare and Max Lindegger
Worldview Key- The Song of the Earth - A Synthesis of the
Scientific and Spiritual Worldviews

Garden, M* (2006) "The Eco-Village Movement; Divorced


from Reality, TheInternationalJournal ofInclusive
Democracy 2(3);1-5,

Gilman, Robert and Diane Gilman, "Ecovillages and


Sustainable Communities; A Report for Gaia Trust, (Gaia
Trust, 1991),

Hopkins, R, J. (2010) "Localisation and Resilience at the


Local Level; The Case of Transition Town Totnes (Devon,
UK), PhD-thesis, University of Plymouth,

Jackson, Hildur, (1999), CreatingHarmony:Conflict


Resolution in Communities. UK: Permanent

PublicationsandGaia Trust.
Jackson, Hildur, and Karen Svensson, (2002) Ecovillage
Living:Restoring theEarth andHer People. UK: Green Books,

Jackson, J. T, Ross, (2000) And We AREDoingIt:Building

anEcovillageFuture. San Francisco; Robert D, Reed


Publishers,

Jackson, J.T Ross, (1996) Theearth is our habitat:proposal

for a supportprogrammefor eco-habitats as livingexamples

ofAgenda 21p/anni/gDeiunik: Holte, Gaia Trust; Global


Eco-Village Network;

Jackson, J, T, Ross, 2012, Occupy WorldStreet;A Global


Roadmapfor RadicalEconomic andPoliticalReform. White
River Junction VT: Chelsea Green Publishing,
Joss, S. (2011) "Eco-Cities: The Mainstreaming Of Urban
Sustainability - Key Characteristics And Driving Factors,"

InternationalJournal ofSustainableDevelopment and


Planning3(6): 268-285,

Joubert, Anja Kosha, and Robin Alfred, (2007) Social Key;


Beyond You and Me, UK; Permanent Publications,

Joubert, Anja Kosha, (2010) Die Kraft der Kollektiven


Weisheit, Wie wir gemeinsam schaffen, was einer alleine
nichtkann, Germany; Kamphausen,

Keepin, William, andMaddy Harland Worldview Key: The


Song of theEarth A Synthesis of the Scientific andSpiritual
Worldviews, UK; Permanent Publications,
Kunze, 1, (2012) "Social Innovations for Communal and
Ecological Living; Lessons from Sustainability Research
and Observations in Intentional Communities",

Communal Societies, journal of the CommunalStudies


Association 32(1): 50-67.
Kunze, Iris andFlor Avelino (2009) "Exploring Ecovillages
as alternative fields of sustainability and governance.
Presentation at the European Conference on Interpretive
Policy Analysis, June 2009, Kassel, Forthcoming

publication in: Criticalpolicyjournal,

Kyvelou, S, (20 11) "Exploring a South-European econeighbourhood model: planning forms, constraints of
implementation and emerging resilience practices."
Internationaljournal ofSustainableDevelopment
14(l/2):77-94.

Litfin, Karen.

2013, Ecovillages:Lessons

for Sustainable

Community, UK: Polity Press,


Mare, Christopher ., and Max Lindegger, (2011),
Ecological Key: DesigningEcological Habitats Creating a
Sense of Place. UK: Permanent Publications,

Merrifield, Jeff, (1998) Damanhur:TheRealDream. London:


Thorsons,

Newhouse, Brian, (2012) Permaville:How to Design a


Permanent Village. USA,
Schwarz, Walter and Dorothy Schwarz, (1998) Living
Lightly: Travels inPost-Consumer Society. Oxfordshire: Jon
Carpenter Publishing,

Sullivan, W, M. (1994) TheDawning ofAuroviile, Auroville,


India: Auroville Press.

Walker, Liz. (2005) Ecovillage atIthaca;Pioneeringa


Sustainable Culture. Canada: New Society Publishers.

TRIARCHY PRESS
Triarchy Press is an independent publisher of new
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Our titles cover a wide range of topics including:

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Money and Sustainability - Bernard Lietaer etd.

PeopleMoney: Thepromise ofregional currencies by


Margit Kennedy, Bernard Lietaer and John Rogers
LocalMoney: What's thepointlby John Rogers
Cultural Theory and Clumsy Solutions

OrganisingandDisorganisingbyMichaelThompson
ComplexityDemystifiedby Patrick Beautement,
Christine Broenner

Shaping the Future


HumamsingHealthcare by (Dr,) Margaret Hannah
Dancingat theEdgeby Maureen O'Hara and Graham

Leicester
Thrivability by Jean Russell
ThreeHorizons:ThePatterningofHopeby Bill Sharpe
Systems Thinking
We have a wealth of books on systems thinking by
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Society, Somatics, Movement

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www.; triarch vpress.net

About the authors

1
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Kosha Anja Joubert is an international facilitator, trainer,


manager and consultant. She has worked extensively in
the fields of curriculum development, international
collaboration and sustainable development, Kosha grew
up in South Africa, and has subsequently lived in
intentional communities and researched intercultural
communication for the past 25 years. Currently, she lives
with her family in Findhorn, Scotland, and serves as
President of the Global Ecovillage Network (GENInternational), Kosha is a co-founder of Gaia Education,
which develops trainings at the cutting-edge of
sustainability, and is a co-author of the internationally
applied curriculum of the Ecovillage Design Education,
She is especially fascinated by the phenomenon of
Collective Wisdom: how can we transform our teams,
organisations and societies into systems of cooperation,
creativity and innovation. She is currently working on the
translation of her book, previously published in German:
The ChangeMakers Guide to Collective Wisdom.

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Leila Dreggei is a graduate agricultural engineer and


long-time journalist. She has travelled through all
continents to various communities and peace projects to
learn about different lifestyles and to write about them.
Her main emphasis is on peace, ecology, community and
women, she has worked for the press and radio for 25
years, and is a screenwriter and director for both stage and
film. She was the editor of the magazine Thefemale voicepolitics of theheart. She was press officer of the house of
democracy in Berlin, the ZEGG in Belzig and Tamera in
Portugal, where she mainly lives today. Since 2012, she
has been the editor of the GEN-lnternational Newsletters,
She teaches constructive journalism for young
professionals and students, as well as for journalists
working in crisis regions. She is the author of several
books,